Charles Mushumba, the head coach of Rwanda U16 women’s basketball team, has emphasised that his side’s ultimate goal at the upcoming FIBA Africa U16 Women’s Basketball Championships is to qualify for the World U17 Championships next year.
Scheduled for June 28 through July 3 at Amahoro Indoor Stadium, the hosts – like any other hopefuls – will have to reach the final if they are to represent Africa at the 2020 World Championships in September, in India.
While Rwanda is only making her second appearance in the biennial tournament, Mushumba is confident that if with the home support, his ladies can go all the way to the final.
“We know that qualifying for the world championships is a long short, but we will do the best within our means. And, I have confidence in my players,” Mushumba said during a news conference on Wednesday.
Rwanda finished second during the qualifiers Zone V Championships last month, but Mushumba says it was a valuable learning experience for his youthful side and have since improved in all aspects.
“We made so many careless mistakes in Zone 5, understandably because it was the first time all the players were in an international competition. We have since refined our game, and the girls are more confident and mentally fit for the show.”
Teams start jetting in
In the meantime, continental powerhouse Mali were the first team to arrive in the country on Wednesday and will hold their first training session Thursday morning at La Palisse Hotel.
The West African side who are looking for a record-extending sixth title, have won the tournament back-to-back since its inception in 2019.
According to Rwanda Basketball Federation (Ferwaba), Tanzania and Uganda are expected in Kigali on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
Angola, Egypt, Mozambique and South Africa complete the lineup of eight teams that will be battling for continental glory in Kigali.