In April 1994 the world witnessed one of the worst genocide in human history, in a span of five months an estimated 500,000-1,000000 lives were lost, it was a civil war that bitterly divided a nation, however in the 20 odd years since the battle ended Rwanda has been steadily healing from its wounded past, and Cricket has been a vehicle to bring the people of this great nation together, in fact, cricket is the fastest growing sport in Rwanda. Today on Cricktalk20 I have the pleasure of chatting with the World Record Holder for the longest net session by a woman in history, a member of the Rwanda Women’s team The Great Hope Cathia Umwahoro.
Hi Cathia, it’s a pleasure having you on the cricktalk20 platform do tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Cathia Uwamahoro, born on August 5, 1993, in Gisozi sector, Gasabo district, Kigali city to Corneille Rudahinyuka (RIP) and Thacienne Umulisa, am the only child in my family, and currently live with my mother in Gisozi.
“My mum told me that my dad was killed during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi when I was only six months old, so I don’t have his physical image in my mind”.
I joined l’École des Sciences Appliqués de Gikondo (ESA Gikondo) where I studied my ordinary level and later I headed to AIPER Nyandungu for advanced level and studied Computer Science. Currently am studying Information technology at the University of Kigali.
How did you get into cricket?
Surprisingly, during my primary school, I was a fan of volleyball and football, and when I joined secondary school, I also started playing basketball. At this time, I had never heard of sport called cricket.
In 2008 while in senior two, I was on my way home from school when I saw a group of boys in Gikondo playing cricket, a game I had only briefly watched on television.
“As a sportswoman, I felt interested to go and watch with my eyes how actually the game is played”.
Ironically, one of the boys that were playing at that improved cricket playing field; is a national team and world recorder holder, Eric Dusingizimana.
Dusingizimana was the first person who spotted me and introduced me to the game. “ I somehow fell in love with it, so when we went into the third term holidays, I started training with them.”
Since there were no girls’ clubs by then, the Rwanda Cricket Association established a club called ‘Kigali Combine’ based in Eto Kicukiro, that would bring together all girls from different schools around Kigali and be coached by Dusingizimana.
I was among the club’s pioneer players, and it was not long before I was called to join the first national U-19 team that went on to compete in several ICC Africa U-19 Women Championships.
What inspired you to play the game?
Since I was called to join the national team it inspired me because it was a such an honor to present my country.
Rwanda is pretty new in the of world cricket, but there is so much passion for the game there, what sort of development structures do you have in place for the growth of the game?
As we want the growth of the game. We want to move in all districts of Rwanda and introduce cricket to them. We have started that, and so far there are some clubs from outside Kigali city too.
The women’s team is becoming a force to reckon with in your region, do you have a professional set up for the women’s team?
I do my best to contribute to my team. Not only that, but I also try to introduce the game to the girls who don’t have any idea about cricket and try to bring them into the game, currently, the women’s game does not have a professional setup.
Does Rwanda have a women’s league?
Yes, Rwanda has women’s league.
You are a legend in the women’s game in your own sense, being the world record holder of having a 26-hour net session, how did you end up doing that?
I had a good preparation by doing different practices like fitness, swimming, and I use to bat 8hours straight per day. I did anything which I thought it could help me at that time.
We understand that you attempted and set the world record to raise funds to build your international cricket stadium, how did you feel after achieving this?
I felt so happy and proud. When I saw that I achieved what I wanted to, I felt like my dreams came true. Whenever I see our international cricket stadium I feel like it’s my second home.
Heather Knight especially came out to Rwanda to see you break the world record, did this motivate you?
When Heather Knight came to support me, this motivated me a lot, especially to see my Role model coming to support me. I take this opportunity to thank her again.
Rwanda has been through a very horrible war in the mid-’90s, do you feel cricket is helping unite the country?
Cricket has capacity to unite people, stimulate confidence and teamwork. the cricket environment keeps you occupied, the jokes around the oval and the tight work in order to win games makes you get on well and keeps your mind away from thinking about what happened but rather move on. For the case of Rwanda, cricket has offered the distressed and traumatized a platform to heal and reconcile.
Where do you see Rwanda Cricket in the next 5 years?
In five year I see Rwanda on the international level, In both men’s and women’s cricket.
As a cricketer what is your greatest cricketing memory?
My greatest cricketing memory is when we represented country at the first time in world cup qualifiers in 2019.
If given a chance what player past or present would you love to play alongside with?
If I get a chance I would love to play alongside with my Role model Heather Knight.
How would you define success?
Success is both a goal and a journey. When we reach certain milestones, that is an element of success. But we don’t stop there. We push higher and harder, striving for more and to be better.
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