LAUNCHING CRICKET IN RUBAVU

We woke up on a warm morning for our last day in Rubavu and our first post-Graham.

Our destination was a familiar venue but a different function, as we were attending the official launch of cricket in the Rubavu district, which included a rapid-fire competition between schools that we had worked with.  The event was organised by Yorkshire Tea, Cricket Builds Hope and the Rwandan Cricket Association.   On arriving on the field there was a football match taking place, but any concerns that this would prove an obstacle were quickly allayed by two security guards who moved the footballers on.

Two gazebos adorned the field and VIPs were arriving in a convoy of 4x4s while we set up the competition, keenly observed and followed around by the local children, excited to see what was happening on their patch.  The competing teams then marched into the grounds, rather like an entrance at the opening ceremony of the Olympics, and play commenced.

The brief was that the matches were intended to show off the skills learned during the week, but that the results were not important and there would not be a winner. The children joined in with this ethos, but some of the teachers clearly hadn’t read the script and were frantically trying to change the score by having penalty runs taken off their opposition for encroachment and other ‘offences’.

The school matches complete we then set up an exhibition six-a-side game between the Pfunda Tea Factory (one of the sponsors of Rubavu cricket) and the Mayor’s team. CWBers helped out – with Gabby and Frankie joining the factory side and Sachi with the mayor’s side. Phil joined forces with a local umpire to oversee fair play. Gabby reminded the ever-growing crowd that girls could play cricket too by despatching two deliveries into the adjoining field and Frankie excited the crowd with an athletic diving catch in the deep as Pfunda came out on top.

With cricket ended for the day we were then invited to the formal part of proceedings, served with local tea as we were entertained by two troups of performing local dances and the appropriate musical backing. One of the stars was an amazing six year old. Several speeches followed, all repeated by an interpreter for our benefit – and its fair to say that Rwandans do like a speech.  A poem, very energetically performed by Harriet, one of the local schoolchildren, was very impressive and Joshua, the CEO of Rwanda, brought proceedings to a close with the official ribbon cutting. A buffet lunch at the adjoining school and then we were back in Eddie’s hands as he headed the bus for Musanze. Emmy’s estimated time for the journey was seventy minutes and he was spot-on as we arrived at the Fatima Hotel and most of the group immediately took advantage of the hotel pool on what was the hottest day of the trip so far.

After most had tracked the fortunes of their particular football team back home we headed out on a walk in to town for dinner. Emmy estimated the walk at ten minutes, so, given his earlier accuracy, we were a little surprised to still be walking after 25 minutes. The meal was excellent and worth the journey but we felt it wise to utilise the local two-wheeled taxis for the return journey, and set about enjoying our first sleep in Musanze, which JS in particular was eagerly awaiting.

Phil Green

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