How has sports infrastructure changed face after 26 years?

Kigali Arena was constructed in just six months – from January to June – last year, and is billed as the biggest indoor sports facility in Eastern and Central Africa. Courtesy of the 10,000-seat modern arena, Rwanda has won the bids to host the finals of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) 2020 and the African Basketball Championships (AfroBasket) 2021. / Photo: File.

The sports sector is one of the areas that were hugely devastated by 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Hundreds of key players in this sector, and hundreds of thousands of fans across different disciplines are known to have lost their lives during the atrocities.

Sport plays a significant role in the development of communities; it brings people together to interact, play and engage in conversations that build social harmony. Sports positively impacts social development and economic sustainability; empower people and teach leadership and citizenship skills while inculcating cooperation toward shared goals.

 

Twenty-six years later, the government has invested hefty sums in a number of measures to see that a peaceful society is built. And, the sports industry was not left behind.

 

Infrastructure is crucial in the development of any sport. Times Sport takes a look at some of the major infrastructures – in the sports domain – established in the post-1994 era.

 

Kigali Arena

Last August, Rwanda celebrated the opening of the magnificent Kigali Arena after being constructed in just six months. At 10,000-seat capacity, it is billed as the biggest indoor sports facility in the Eastern and Central Africa and among top ten on the continent.

Inside view of the magnificent Kigali Arena. It was inagurated on August 9, 2019.

The complex sits on a 28,000 square-meter piece of land right next to Amahoro National Stadium, with a parking lot that can accommodate over 600 vehicles.

Since its inauguration, the facility has hosted a number of notable basketball games and tournaments, events, concerts and conferences.

Among others, Kigali Arena was home for the second – and final – round qualifiers for the Basketball Africa League (BAL 2020) East Division and the playoffs finals for the Basketball National League.

Gahanga Cricket Stadium

The Rwf950-million facility, which was inaugurated by President Paul Kagame in October 2017, is the first of its kind in the region. And, after only 2.5 years, the stadium has hosted countless matches and tournaments – local and international.

Gahanga Cricket Stadium hosts the Kwibuka Women’s T20 Tournament, an annual showpiece that is organised by the local cricket governing body (RCA) in honour of victims of the Genocide that claimed over one million lives in just 100 days.

Gahanga Cricket Stadium, the first of its kind in the region, was launched in October 2017. 

The 6th edition of the competition, held last year, was contested by four national sides from Mali, Uganda, hosts Rwanda and Tanzania, and won by the latter after winning all their six matches. Rwanda’s Marie Bimenyimana was named the player of the tournament.

Gisagara international gymnasium

In November 2016, Gisagara District completed the construction of Rwanda’s first internationally recognized volleyball gymnasium at a tune of Rwf921 million.

Ever since, the facility has been home for Gisagara Volleyball Club, two-time champions of the National Volleyball League. The venue is also used for different talent detection programmes.

Football infrastructure

Although it was constructed before 1994, Amahoro National Stadium – a multi-purpose stadium located in the capital, Kigali – has undergone regular upgrades and renovations, which allowed it to host some of the biggest competitions in Africa.

The stadium was initially constructed by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, at a reported cost of US$ 21 million. The construction began in March 1984 and was completed in January 1989.

The 30,000-seat capacity stadium hosted the 4th African Nations Championship (CHAN 2016), the second biggest football event on the continent. Rwanda reached the quarter-finals after losing 2-1 to eventual winners DR Congo.

After serious upgrades, three other stadiums – Kigali Stadium, Huye Stadium and Umuganda Stadium – also hosted group stage matches of the tournament.

Starting with the current 2019/2020 season, the country also saw the opening of three new stadiums; Bugesera Stadium, Nyagatare Stadium and Ngoma Stadium, all part of President Paul Kagame’s pledge to the people of the three districts – in Eastern Province – to bring sports infrastructure closer to them.

Two of the facilities in Bugesera and Nyagatare host home matches for Bugesera FC and Sunrise FC in the Rwanda Premier League, while Ngoma Stadium is used by Etoile de l’Est in the second division league.

Ngoma District is home to one of the three new stadiums in Eastern Province. 

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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