Surrey County Cricket Club extend partnership with Cricket Builds Hope . - Kia Oval Skip to main content

Surrey County Cricket Club have extended their partnership with Cricket Builds Hope – working together to help develop cricket in Rwanda – by another three years.

The partnership, originally started in 2015, has seen an international standard ground built in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, that has since staged major qualifiers for ICC global T20 events. As well as this, the ground plays host to a regular calendar of domestic cricket and programmes helping to continue the development of the sport in the east African nation.

The new deal will see the Club continue to help fund cricket for change in the country, with a focus on building women and girl’s cricket and helping CBH with their work around increasing female empowerment.

To celebrate the extension, Martin Biggin, deputy head of The Kia Oval groundstaff, will spend a week in Kigali working and delivering training alongside Eric Dusingizimana. Eric – a key figure in the original fundraising effort – is a former captain of Rwanda, who is now head of the team that look after the three grounds in the East African country.

January will also see a historic moment for Rwandan cricket take place in South Africa, as the Rwanda U19s take part in the first ever U19 Women’s World Cup. They secured qualification last year, beating Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique, Malawi, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Botswana last September, to join South Africa and Zimbabwe as the three African representatives.

Rwanda are due to play England on Thursday January 19th, in Potchefstroom, the first time the two countries will ever have played against each other.

Originally a Belgian colony with no cricketing culture, the sport arrived in Rwanda in the late 1990s, brought back by Rwandans who had been displaced by the genocide that took place in the country in 1994. They had taken refuge in countries including Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, where they learnt about the sport.

Returning home, they wanted to continue playing but discovered there was only one ground in the country, with poor facilities. In 2011, Cricket Builds Hope was founded with a mission to raise money to build a new ground in Kigali.

Surrey partnered with CBH in 2015, donating money to assist in the construction of the ground – located in Gahanga in the south east of Kigali – and helping create further links between Rwandan cricket and the ICC. The Club has also teamed up with CBH to host an annual Carol Service at St. Mark’s Church in Kennington. The ground opened in 2017, with a celebrity match that saw players including Michael Vaughan and Sam Billings forced to don Surrey kit whilst playing at the stadium!

There are now 24 cricket clubs in Rwanda and the game is played in more than 100 Rwandan schools. It is equally popular with both girls and boys as Rwandans have never considered it a gendered sport. Given its lack of history in the country before 1994, it is also considered an excellent vehicle for the country’s ongoing reconciliation process following the events of 1994.

Since 2017, significant work has seen the original ground transformed, with a worn astroturf pitch replaced by a fresh grass wicket – and a second pitch built at the new site in Gahanga. Cricket Builds Hope have also partnered with Comic Relief to deliver female empowerment programmes in Gahanga and with Yorkshire Tea, to deliver coaching and competitions in the tea estates that operate in the mountains above Kigali.

Head of Community, Public Affairs and Projects at Surrey CCC, Jon Surtees, said: “It’s really brilliant that Surrey CCC are able to continue our partnership with Cricket Builds Hope, helping to expand the remarkable growth of cricket in Rwanda.

“To be a part of the work that has gone on to date has been a huge privilege – capped by the incredible scenes when Rwanda U19 Women qualified for the inaugural World Cup. We all hope this will be seen as a vital moment for Rwandan cricket, with teams able to build on this fantastic achievement and continue to carve out a place at the top table of the world game.

“To do this, facilities need to continue to be upgraded and maintained, hence one of The Kia Oval’s world class ground staff making the trip to Kigali to pass on his expertise, offer training to the teams working out there and build relationships so we can continue to help going forward. We hope this will be the first of many trips by Surrey staff to help our wonderful sport’s continued development in Rwanda.”

Will Hammond, Project Director at Cricket Builds Hope, said: “Surrey CCC have provided invaluable support to Cricket Builds Hope over the years and we’re delighted to have expanded our partnership. Their commitment to the growth of cricket and using the power of the game to support community development in Rwanda is admirable. Based on the strong foundations build to date, this partnership provides the expertise and capacity to improve facilities while empowering more women through sport.”