This post was written by Remy Ndiaye.
Getting close to the end of the 2014-2015 Shooting Touch sabbatical program, I am getting attached to more people and more places here in Rwanda. The past three months have been really busy especially with the youth league and inner matches. The kids have absolutely stepped up to another level and now our junior coaches are running their own practices perfectly. Since February we’ve had some games and coaching clinics to keep our players and coaches on the right track.
In March, we kept the youth league and inner matches going. Kayonza was facing Rukara at home and Rwinkwavu was hosting Nyamirama. Both teams that had home court advantage dominated the games, except Rukara Primary who defeated Kayonza in the final seconds with the score of 23-21. On the other side, Rwink’s Women, along with Men’s Primary and Secondary, protected their home court by defeating Nyamirama. Evaluating the level of performance of the kids make us very proud and confident about the basketball growth in the Eastern province. With the help of our junior coaches, the players understand the rules and they also play collectively. Due to the fact that the performance is reaching the highest level and that the players know the opponents key players, the teams without home court advantage have less chances to win. Overall, the kids are having a blast in the league and the best thing is that they are thankful for it because now they have something to enjoy during the Weekend.
However, as we all know April is a month in Rwanda when there are no activities going on. From April 7th to the 14th, people remember their loved ones lost during the Genocide in 1994. Therefore, people gather in churches or centers to share their stories. For that purpose, all basketball activities were canceled until April 17th. Most of my kids were born a few years after the tragedy, so they hear stories from the elders. 1000’s of people were killed during the genocide 21 years ago. Some people have no problem sharing their stories individually, but other still don’t want to talk about it because they are still hurt. However, the kids were out of school for a couple weeks, but there were no activities for them. No music playing, streets very quiet, less cars running, shops closed… because people were still mourning for family members who died 21 years ago. On the 18th of April we restarted practices and made some faces smile again. Two days after, I organized a friendly match between Kayonza and Gahini. The reason of the friendly match was to keep the kids in the same competition routine and also prepare Gahini to enter the league soon.
The games were more exciting than I expected. The Primary team of Kayonza defeated Gahini with the difference of 1 points. For Secondary they played two games, and they each went home with a victory. I was expecting Kayonza to take the lead on both games because they have been in the league for a long time, but Gahini stepped up and beat them in game one 20-17. The league will keep going starting this weekend with good matches between Nyamirama and Rukara and Kayonza hosting Rwinkwavu. The results will be updated on social media after the games.
Last week, we organized a coaching clinic for our junior coaches to help them refresh their memories and learn new strategies of coaching. In addition, we introduced to the coaches the SFH organization (Society for Family Health) who is now a partner with Shooting Touch. They taught the coaches many activities based on health and especially with HIV prevention. They paid close attention and took notes for future reference and exams.
The breaking news lately in East Africa is the crisis in Burundi. Burundi is a small country, smaller than Maryland and it is located 6 hours south of Rwanda. There is violence going on in the country due to the fact that the population doesn’t want a third term from the current president.
The protests began on April 26 in opposition to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term, something the protesters say is prohibited by the country’s constitution which was agreed to at the end of a deadly civil war. 1000’s of refugees are still waiting at the border of Burundi and Rwanda. There is a small community of Burundians in the Kayonza area, which will absolutely support and welcome back family members. Our goal is to introduce to the young refugees the game of basketball by joining Shooting Touch. I sent a message to my players, if they have any relatives, brothers or sisters from Burundi to come enjoy the game and help them relieve themselves from the pressure they left behind. For that purpose, I am reassuring everyone that everything is OK and all Shooting Touch Members are safe.
The highlight from these past two months is the domination of Shooting Touch members in the Rwandan Basketball League. Isa and Lisanne are carrying Ubumwe team in their backs with a five game winning streak. On the other hand, I am doing my best to keep UGB (United Generation Basketball) alive while we are standing 2nd in the league behind Espoir BC. We are not only representing our countries: Isa (USA), Lisanne (Canada), Remy (Senegal) but also Shooting Touch by always demanding excellence.
Thank you so much for taking your time to read this blog.
God bless you all and please pray for Burundi,