DESPITE the inconvenience caused by Covid-19 across the globe, Rwanda in 2021 has positioned itself as one of Africa’s premier destinations for sporting events.
The country’s efforts to improve its sports facilities, coupled with a reputation for Covid-safe events, among other factors such as cleanliness and safety, have led it to attract major continental tournaments.
Times Sport brings you a summary of the 6 best sports competitions organized by the country.
The Basketball Africa League (BAL)
In May, history was made when Rwanda hosted the inaugural season of the BAL, an elite continental club championship affiliated with the United States National Basketball Association (NBA).
Held at the Kigali Arena, the competition saw the participation of 12 clubs from 12 different African countries.
As well as bringing in a number of celebrities like former NBA players Dikembe Mutombo and Joakim Noah, the showpiece was characterized by a number of unforgettable experiences including the stellar performances of the Patriots Basketball Club which brought them seen reaching the semi-finals.
Sports investors like Wesley Roberts Edens, NBA team co-owner Milwaukee Bucks, as well as politicians including Presidents Paul Kagame and Emmanuel Macron have also graced the tournament.
After two weeks of action, Zamalek Sporting Club of Egypt won the title after defeating US Monastir of Tunisia 76-63 in the final.
FIBA Afrobasket 2021
Rwanda also hosted the FIBA Afrobasket 2021 tournament, a continental men’s basketball championship for African nations.
Considered the biggest basketball event for national teams in Africa, the competition started on August 24 at the Kigali Arena and ended on September 5.
It drew 16 teams, ranging from the usual powerhouses like Senegal and Tunisia, to smaller ones like Kenya and Rwanda.
Tunisia won the title and became the first team to win back-to-back Afrobasket titles since Angola in 2009.
African Men’s Volleyball Championship
Rwanda has become the first country in the East African region to host the African Men’s Volleyball Championship.
Tunisia defended their title in Kigali after beating Cameroon 3-1 in the final.
African Women’s Volleyball Championship
The continental volleyball championship in the women’s category was also held in Kigali in September.
Nine countries took part in the tournament: Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon, Morocco, Senegal, Burundi, DR Congo, Tunisia and Rwanda.
Unfortunately, Rwanda were disqualified from the competition after being found guilty of fielding ineligible players.
The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) has ruled that Rwanda will be banned from the competition and previous matches will be lost for flouting the rules.
FIBA Afrobasket Zone 5 Women Qualifiers
Rwanda also hosted the FIBA Women’s Afrobasket Zone 5 qualifiers.
In the competition which took place in July, Kenya booked a ticket to the 2021 Women’s Afrobasket final after beating Egypt 99-83 in the final.
The Star of the Beach Volleyball World Tour 2
Also in July, Rwanda hosted the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) Beach Volleyball World Tour Star 2 in Rubavu district.
Teams from the United States won the titles in both the men’s and women’s categories.
Theo Brunner/Chaim Schalk triumphed on the men’s side, while Emily Day/Sara Hughes won the trophy on the women’s side.
Rwanda hosts 4 ICC qualifiers for Africa Cricket World Cup
Rwanda has been awarded the hosting rights for all four of the five African regional qualifying tournaments this year, including the African qualifier for the U-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup which took place from September 28 to October 7 and the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup African Qualifier held from November. 15-20.
The four tournaments cost ICC more than Rwf 900 million which, according to tournament coordinator Emmanuel Byiringiro, was spent on team accommodation, transport, regular covid-19 testing for players, delegates team and organizers, among others.
The Ugandan starlets have qualified for the 2022 ICC U-19 World Cup in the West Indies while the country’s senior squad have also secured a ticket to the ICC T20 World Cup global qualifiers scheduled for February next year after last weekend’s hard-fought win over Kenya by six wickets.
Besides securing qualification, the Ugandan team also pocketed $80,000.
Meanwhile, Rwanda have struggled to compete for a ticket to any of the three qualifying tournaments they have entered, despite hosting the majority of World Cup qualifiers, including the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Africa Qualifier held in Namibia from September 7-20, U-19 African Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier and ICC Men’s T20 Sub-Regional World Cup Qualifier Group A , both held in Kigali.