Rwanda hopeful of clinching their maiden Kwibuka T20 tournament title in 2021

Rwanda team. © Rwanda Cricket Association/ Twitter

Rwanda head coach Leonard Nhamburo feels his team are ready to challenge their competitors in the Kwibuka T20 Tournament scheduled to start in Kigali on Sunday (June 6). Speaking to Women’s CricZone, the former Namibia coach, said the side had put in plenty of work through the lockdown – improving both their fitness and skill levels – and can’t wait to finally play some competitive cricket.

“I think the preparation has been going well, and the team is progressing really well,” Nhamburo said. “During the Covid time, we’ve been working on our fitness, and a little after that we started working on our skills.”

“There are some areas that we have worked on in terms of the batting side and the bowling side. I am happy with how the team has been playing in terms of what it looks like when they are playing at their best, so I think we are ready for the tournament.”

Nhamburo, who has been overseeing the squad’s training since his full-time appointment in January this year, expressed confidence in the players’ ability to step up on the big stage.

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“Like any other coach, I think I expect whatever [we’ve] worked on to be on show through the tournament. So, we are expecting if we do all the things that we have planned, we can win this tournament.”

“I think that is one of our goals, and we are expecting the girls to pull through and to take us home and to lift this trophy for the first time since the tournament has started.”

Rwanda, whose last international assignment was back in September 2019 – a five-match T20I series against Nigeria – have spent the last year building a strong group of players who can challenge for a place in the national team. Through the lockdown, they held camps for the Under-19 national team, the Emerging side and the senior women’s side.

Echoing the coach’s thoughts, Technical Director of Rwanda cricket Martin Suji, the brains behind these training camps, said he believes the 2021 edition of the Kwibuka T20 tournament is the host’s chance to shine.

“In the last two years the ladies have come leaps and bounds. They have worked hard on the technical part of the game, and their coach Leonard Nhamburo, who is from Zimbabwe, has had a [positive] impact on the side.”

“Looking at where they are, I feel they are in a good place, in a good competitive mood and as we prepare for this tournament I am looking forward to seeing them express themselves better.”

“They have played six (Kwibuka) tournaments, but I feel this seventh edition should be ours because the team spirit is good.”

The six-team event with see the likes of Namibia, Uganda, Nigeria, Botswana and Kenya make the trip to Kigali. The hosts are placed in Group A alongside Botswana and Nigeria, and will kick off their campaign with a morning game against the former.

Rwanda skipper Sarah Uwera said the team is extremely excited to return to the international arena. She added that the commitment shown by the players through the lockdown will help them put on a good show through the tournament.

“We are so happy to be part of this tournament after it was cancelled last year due to COVID-19. Our team is ready and we are in good spirits,” Uwera said.

“We are well prepared and we put in work during the lockdown – we never stopped training. Every player worked on their fitness and skills through that period. This is why we can’t wait for this tournament to start. With this readiness, we promise a good performance and we’ll not disappoint our fans and the nation,” she concluded.