Cricket in Rwanda – developing the game through coaching and education

Our trip to Rwanda in October 2017 will always be memorable for the opening of the new National Stadium, a facility which has the potential to increase participation within cricket as well as giving the game a home on the outskirts of the capital. With its beautiful and unique pavilion overlooking one of the very few pieces of flat ground in the entire country, the stadium may get plenty talking about the game, but it alone cannot have a sustainable impact on the quality of cricket produced nationally. Cricket Without Boundaries facilitated a Level 2 coaching course during the trip for 12 young cricket enthusiasts which will raise the standard of coaching in both the current national teams and for generations into the future.

Candidates included 2 CWB Ambassadors, who are funded to sustain interest in cricket between projects, as well as 10 young coaches who will form the vanguard of the Rwanda Cricket Associations vision to have cricket in all 30 regions of Rwanda by 2020. These individuals have a passion for the game, an ability to communicate effectively with young people, and now have the knowledge and understanding to help those interested in a future in cricket.

The bespoke Level 2 course focused on player-centered coaching, including replicating match pressure situations, working on tactical aspects of the game through practices and training to outcomes. These were all considered crucial by RCA and CWB, as with limited match-play opportunities in Rwanda these skills are key to developing players to compete. Tutor Lee Booth reflected on this in conversation with 21-year-old all-rounder Landry, where it was revealed that he estimated he had played around 50 “proper” matches in his 8-year playing career. It became clear that, between school and junior cricket, Lee would have played the best part of 500 matches by the time he was his age.

The course, run by CWB veteran Lee Booth and first time volunteer Pete Lamb, also gave the participants an insight into how to self-coach – as 7 of the group are involved in their respective National set up it is important they can use the knowledge to benefit their squads with immediate impact. While the course was ongoing a couple of coaches were fortunate enough to lead some National team sessions, in preparation for the tournament leading up to the stadium opening. As well as match preparation, the sessions served as a great time for those who had attended the coaching course to come up with their own session plans, and put into practice much of the course content. These experiences were valuable in showing how important such training principals are, and giving scenarios which could be used after coaches had left.

Throughout the course participants grappled with new concepts, and each individual would understand different parts of the course differently. Pete, commented:

“It was great to witness many lightbulb moments as the coaches threw themselves into this new way of coaching, like many in the UK until now everything they had been doing was largely focused on the technical aspects of the game and to watch them create and run new scenario based session was a real privilege.”

The course culminated in supported practice opportunities, working with young people involved in the wider CWB project, and then for those who completed both the course and the practice sessions a final assessment to check coach competencies. 10 young coaches were able to walk away from the week as RCA/CWB Level 2 coaches, and begin their journey bringing cricket to all Rwandans.

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