Gahanga Cricket Stadium in Kigali has become the first cricket ground to open in Rwanda in an effort to develop the sport in the country.
President Paul Kagame inaugurated the stadium on Saturday in the country’s capital city.
He said, according to the AFP news agency: “We are very happy to have this cricket pavilion and ground built, and by that we remember Christopher Shale, in whose memory this has been built.”
Shale was a late British politician who set up the Rwandan Cricket Stadium Foundation.
The majority of the $1.3m (€1.1m/£987,600) raised for the stadium was by international cricket players looking to support the game’s growth in Rwanda.
In addition, Eric Dusingizimana, the Rwanda team captain, raised money for the project by setting a Guinness World Record by batting for 51 hours straight last year.
— Government of Rwanda (@RwandaGov) October 30, 2017
“It is a great pleasure for us to have this facility which will see more young men and women playing and improving their skills. It is also good for us to have partners in the United Kingdom,” said Alby Shale, the son of Christopher Shale, according to AFP.
Rwanda’s national cricket association estimates that only around 4,000 people currently play cricket in the country. The new stadium is a rarity in east Africa as it has been built to international standards.
“This is an exciting development for us and the younger generation is going to benefit heavily from this,” said Dusingizimana.
The construction of Rwanda’s first dedicated cricket ground will provide a permanent home for the sport, helping its development and increasing opportunity for thousands of disadvantaged young people.