The Rwanda Cricket Association, in partnership with Cricket Builds Hope, has been recognised for a unique women's empowerment programme.
Award: 100% Cricket Participation Programme of the Year
The winner of this award will be an outstanding participation programme that either introduces new female participants to cricket or sees female participants who have had an initial exposure to the game transition into regular players, whether in a club or community setting.
Winner: Rwanda – Cricket Builds Hope
What am I good at? What are my strengths and weaknesses? How does one set and achieve goals? How can we be a good team member?
These are all important questions for young adults setting up their lives, but can prove to be stumbling blocks for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, who have not had the opportunities many take for granted. A unique programme by Rwanda Cricket Association and the charity group Cricket Builds Hope aims to help young women around the Gahanga Cricket Stadium answer these very questions and nudge them towards a path of female empowerment.
To do this, the programme uses cricket as a tool for social change.
For example, to help the young women understand how important it is to identify their own strengths, the participants are guided to bat and bowl, identify what they’re good at, repeat the exercise with just one of those, and compare what happens to their performance once they begin to truly focus on what they are good at. When they break down a big chase into smaller targets, it serves as an illustration on how setting small goals can help achieve major ones.
Since the start of the programme in 2018, around 300 women aged between 15 and 25 have benefitted from workshops on business and leadership skills, with cricket sessions held afterwards to reinforce the learning.
News reports from the region have highlighted how these women, many of them married and denied an education, have grown in confidence to pursue their ambitions in running small businesses, keep their minds active and become productive members of society, instead of engaging in "illicit" activities for survival.
Many of the participants are mothers. When they bring their children to the workshops and the cricket ground, it is expected to encourage a new generation to embrace the sport. Furthermore, participants are trained in scoring courses, which provides an opportunity to build on their love for the game by transitioning into future match scorers.
Building on their love of the game, the participants carried on playing, forming community teams that faced off in a weekend of fun and competition at the Gahanga Cricket Stadium last November. Guest teams included Rotaract Rwanda and the Rwanda women’s team. Cohort 4, a team where 90% were mothers, walked away with the gold.
“The programme, which introduced cricket to more than 300 women, is in line with RCA vision is to make cricket a game that is gender-balanced,” the association said.