Rwanda’s U16 women basketball team have stepped up preparations as the country gears up to host this year’s FIBA Africa U16 Women’s Basketball Championships.
The continental tournament will get underway July 26 and run through August 4 in Kigali.
By press time, Wednesday, it was yet to be decided whether it would be hosted at the magnificent 10,000-seat Kigali Arena, or Amahoro Indoor Stadium.
In an exclusive interview with Times Sport after Tuesday evening’s training at Amahoro Stadium, head coach Charles Mushumba said that all the players in camp were fired up to represent the country at continental stage.
“It is going to be the biggest tournament any of the players [on the team] has ever played, so they are all thrilled,” said Mushumba.
The target for the team, he said, is to challenge for the title. However, Mushumba also acknowledges how tough it will be to overcome some of the usual big guns on the continent such as Mali, Egypt and Angola.
“We don’t want to aim low, so the target is to challenge for the title. We know that it will be very tough, but we are ready to give our very best and see if we can go all the way to the final.”
Mali will be in Kigali to defend their title for a record-extending sixth time. No other country has won the tournament since its inception in 2019.
They won the 2017 edition, held in Mozambique, after trouncing Angola 68-29 in the final.
Mushumba’s side will be making their second appearance in the biennial tournament following the 2015 debut in Madagascar where Rwanda finished bottom of the nine-team tournament.
The team, camping at La Palisse Hotel, trains twice a day at Amahoro Stadium, and the 20-member provisional squad will early next week be trimmed to a final 12-player team for the tournament.
“Each of them is working hard in training so they can make it to the final squad. I am confident we will get a team that can compete and win against any opponent,” Mushumba further noted.
The ten-day showpiece will be a contest between eight teams, divided into groups, and the draws will be held during the tournament’s technical meeting a day before kick-off.
Besides the hosts, Rwanda, and holders, Mali, the other six teams include Angola, Egypt, Mozambique, Uganda, South Africa and Tanzania.
Stella Matutina Dusingizumuremyi, Oliviette Tumukunde, Uwimana Kamerewe, Stacy Charlene Usanase, Hope Nyiramugisha, Fridaus Umulisa, Violette Uwimpuhwe, Ange Promesse Umuhamya, Arlette Kariza Karenzi, Naomie Burasa Ishimwe and Ramla Munezero.
Others are; Diane Izerimana, Eleda Ntihemuka, Ange Nelly Irakoze, Allya Meghane Teta, Dorcas Mwiza Gihana, Raissa Hahirwa, Deborah Ntawutarama, Amelie Ella Umubyeyi and Thalia Mugeni Kayiranga.