As it prepared to take off for South Africa, the National Cricket Team of Rwanda was yesterday March 20th given royal treatment at Zaaffran restaurant in the spirit of displaying confidence that local lovers of the sport have in the team.
The Indian cuisine restaurant offered a decent lunch to the team to ensure that by the time they departed at Kigali International Airport, they felt ready for the challenge that lay ahead in the upcoming ICC Africa Division 3 tournament in South Africa.
Also the restaurant’s contribution included among others dressing the national team in well branded T-shirts and caps that will allow decency as they appear on cricket grounds in foreign land.
But Zaaffran’s support to the cricket team is an endeavor that dates five years ago when the restaurant begun operations in 2009.
“We have been supporting the cricket team and will continue doing so because they are now considered Zaaffran family. Nobody ever stops caring for family therefore we want our relationship with the national cricket team to last like family ties,” Jaimin Patel, the restaurant’s proprietor intimated.
Besides the send off gesture, the cricket team has benefited support from Zaaffran in the past including continuing support for an annual tournament which has been running since 2013.
In supporting the “Zaaffran Tournament” the restaurant takes responsibility for the needs of the teams in a period of one and half months, shouldering all the logistic bills involved in the competition, and the trophies, among many others.
The Zaaffran Tournament which is expected to play again this year in July is said to have been a blessing to the cricket sport in Rwanda.
“We are glad that local companies have begun to see interest pushing the cricket sport forward. The more we get the opportunity to compete, the better players become and this is how much Zaaffran Tournament means to us,” Joshua Mwanja, the General Manager of the Rwanda Cricket Association mentioned at the send off event in Kigali.
Eight teams compete in the Zaaffran Tournament competed last year and the same number is planned for this year. However as Mwanja noted, through the kind of engagement that the team is receiving from enthusiasts, the association is targeting to take the sport outside the city in order to unearth talents from across the country.
“We have begun to mobilize cricket competitions in schools across the country and believe that soon we will have teams joining the national league from up out of Kigali.”
Rwandan Cricket continues to be challenged with the lack of play grounds but Mwanja was fast to mention that a world class ground is underway and that this will greatly help eliminate the bottleneck while at the same time is expected to potentially raise support for the sport in and outside the country.