Long before the regional and world press had concerned itself with the Rwanda’s admittance to the prestigious Commonwealth group of nations, a group of enthusiastic sportsmen would meet every weekend at Kicukiro to indulge in a game of cricket.
In fact my first Kinyarwanda vocabulary included the words necessary to tell a motorcycle operator to get me to the cricket ground.
On a personal note, I got to know this group soon after arriving here. I had mentioned that one of the games I loved watching was cricket.
In a short while, I was to know the effective social networking of Rwandans. I was introduced to a one Renzi Lucas, who introduced me to Charles Haba (President of Rwanda Cricket Association) and in a short while I was on the crease holding a cricket bat facing Rwandan pace and spin bowlers.
The way some press houses have been tying Rwanda’s Commonwealth bid to the game of cricket is a very shallow to say the least.
Yes cricket is essentially an English game that has gone on to become very popular among its former colonies like India, Pakistan and the West Indies.
Overtime the game has spread to several countries that are not and do not intend to be a part of the Commonwealth. The same goes for rugby which is also rooted in the English culture of sports.
Countries like Argentina and France now have some of the best rugby sides in the world but this has not earned them a slot in the Commonwealth.
Therefore Rwanda’s cricket and rugby endeavours had little or nothing to do with it being admitted to the Commonwealth group of nations. Sports have long taken on a global rather than a political face with football being the best example.
Rwanda’s admittance to the club is bound to boost sports in general. By this I am looking at the Commonwealth games.
Although not as prestigious as other global sports events, the commonwealth games will give Rwandan sportsmen another chance to compete with some of the world’s best and thus keep or improve on their good form.
As for cricket and rugby, these two games will benefit more from the linkages that our government will nurture with other Commonwealth nations than the commonwealth as an entity.
For example, a school in Rwanda will now find it easy to link up with another in UK and this could probably result in the UK sending its Rwandan counterpart some cricket equipment like bats and pads or even invitations for friendly games.
Away from cricket, news that Tigo was preparing to join the corporate sports sponsorship wagon with Rayon Sport can only be good news.
Globally, football is now ruled by those who attract big sponsorship deals. Just take a look at the clubs that make it to Europe’s elite Champions League.
They are simply the richest clubs in the world thanks to numerous sponsorship packages from business giants like Emirates, Samsung, Tamoil, AIG, Bwin, etc.
Clubs like APR and ATRCO have their recent successes spelt by the cash flows that keep things going smoothly for them.
Another good example is the Ugandan Rugby league whose corporate sponsorships have made it one of the most competitive and successful sports in the region.
Telecom giants MTN and UTL were joined by HIMA cement and G4 security group to take the game to another level. Rwanda’s silver backs has benefited from this by taking part in the annual HIMA 10 a side tourney.
Tigo should not be the last though. Sports sponsorship is a win-win situation and companies like Rwandatel, Banque Populaire, Kabuye Sugar Works and several others should get on board.
This is one forum for them to improve on their competitiveness in the market and it should be embraced fully.Follow https://twitter.com/ssojo81