Rwanda Cricket recently won the 100% Cricket Female Participation Programme at the annual ICC Development Awards, in recognition of their ‘women in leadership’ program that is run partnership with UK-based charity Cricket Builds Hope, which built the majestic Gahanga Cricket Stadium. The program has had a massive impact on the participants who are all from the areas surrounding the stadium; breaking down societal barriers attached to women taking part in sports.

We had a chat with Mary Maina the Program Director of Cricket Builds Hope to get an inside look at the work being done.

What is Cricket Builds Hope?

MM; Cricket Builds Hope is a UK charity that bore out of the Gahanga Cricket Stadium, the 1st international stadium in Rwanda. After the 2017 inauguration of the stadium the charity switched its focus to using cricket and the facility as a tool of positive change through the implementation of different social programs in the Rwandan community such as gender inequality and others.

Explain to us the program that won Rwanda Cricket and CBH the award?

MM; The women in leadership program that uses cricket to unlock the leadership potential of women in society such as unlocking potential such as self-belief, self-confidence, self-advocacy targeting low income women around Gahanga from the age 19 -25 years. The program is implemented in partnership with Rwanda Cricket and Resonate and funded by Comic Relief and the Scottish government. The lives of women around Gahanga basically revolve around doing home chores, looking after the home due to the fact that they are not empowered and partly due to the mentality that society perceives them not to be capable of doing things beyond housework.

Rwanda Cricket Builds Hope
(Photos courtesy of Cricket Builds Hope)

Therefore, this program was designed to uplift the confidence of women around things they can do. All our sessions have the messaging intentionally integrated into cricket drills for example if we are talking about teamwork we usually play a game called diamond where 4 batters stand next to 4 stumps organized in a diamond shape with the bowler in the middle who bowls randomly to any of the batters and for them to make a valid run is when all the four batters move for their stations to the next one at the same time.

This kind of activity teaches communication not only when you are playing but even in your everyday life. We have many other activities and lessons such as goal setting, identifying strengths all embedded in cricket. The methodology is very simple and doesn’t require any formal education.

What has been the impact of the program?

MM; The program has had a lot of impact for the women around Gahanga. The approach of using sports was a win because the stereotype around sports is that it is for only men and children. It was impossible to imagine mothers take on a sport and enjoy it, you watch the women come the first time and be so into the games and actually keep asking you when they will play again.

Rwanda Cricket Builds Hope
(Photos courtesy Cricket Build Hope)

The approach with sports changed the mentality for women to be involved in sports and this has had a great impact on the women.

How much did winning the award from ICC mean to your program and Cricket Builds Hope?

MM; The win and recognition from ICC for our program was heartwarming and also an awakening because of the impact of the sports for change program has been recognised and acknowledged globally. At CHB we believe that sports is beyond being a recreational activity, sports is a powerful tool that can change the lives of people within and without sports. We hope that this also serves as a message to all sports lovers to extend the love of sports to those outside the sports circle because it might be what someone needs to turn their life around.

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