Rwanda’s triumphant young women cricketers completed their fairy tale on Monday, September 12, when they secured a final place at the inaugural ICC Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup, by beating Tanzania by six wickets in Gaborone, Botswana.
The achievement is according to Rwanda Cricket Association (RCA) Stephen Musaale, not only history in the making but also an inspiration to young people aspiring to become cricket stars.
“This means the world to us. A very big milestone. This will inspire all the kids in the cricket hubs to dream big,” Musaale, who traveled with the national team in Botswana, exclusively told Times Sport.
Commenting on the qualification to the world cup, Musaale said it is an opportunity for the cricket body to build structures that can eventually lead young women to helping the senior women reach the world cup as well in the future.
“It is a tough place. The girls are young and it will be a great exposure to play with future potential stars. Once the cookie is tasted, the appetite and craving will never leave,” he said.
After eight months of preparations, the young guns left for Gaborone for the Africa qualifier a fortnight ago, but still with many questions being raised whether head coach Leonard Nhamburo would inspire them to the World Cup. It was a dream that very few, if not any, had but with the coach who has history in coaching teams at the big stages, the federation believed in him.
Prior to the tournament, Nhamburo said, “I’ve been to six Africa senior women’s world cup qualifiers with three different teams, and all the teams that I worked with managed to be successful. It’s something that I, as a coach, pit myself on the bench and be like ‘I know something better’.”
“So, with this wonderful team, I also need to do the same thing with Rwanda. To say…whatever that I was telling other teams and it worked, why can’t we make it work for Rwanda?’ then we start from there…and I am positive that it will work with Rwanda going forward,” he added.
Rwanda was pooled in Group B alongside Nigeria, Tanzania, Nigeria, Malawi and Mozambique.
The country went three consecutive matches unbeaten with victories over Nigerian in the opening game by nine runs, then Malawi by 145 runs and Mozambique by 223 runs before losing to Tanzania by one run to finish second in group A hence meet Uganda in the semi-finals.
It’s semifinal that Rwanda won by 56 runs to set a final date with a Tanzanian side that beat them in the final whose victory would not only earn them a ticket to the World Cup but also a revenge for Nhamburo’s young ladies who struggled to digest how they lost the group stage match on small details.
The girls won the tournament by six wickets on Monday, September 12, against all odds thanks to the winning mentality that Nhamburo transitioned in his young women despite the history of the country’s sport at big stages as explained by skipper Gisele Ishimwe.
The bonus factor
Whichever match they won, Rwanda’s U19 women had to share Rwf 1,000 000 worth of the bonuses that the Rwanda Cricket Association promised them.
That means that they were awarded Rwf 5,000 000 for the five games they played during the qualifiers in Botswana.
Player of the tournament: Henriette Ishimwe
Best Bowler: Belise Murekatete
Best Batter: Henriette Ishimwe
Best Fielder: Henriette Ishimwe