Leicester Riders and Audacious Church Collaborate to Bring Basketball to Cyabatanzi, Rwanda

Leicester Riders are proud to have contributed to the creation of a basketball club in Cyabatanzi, Rwanda. 

This initiative was made possible through the club’s collaboration with Audacious Church in Manchester, as part of the church’s broader mission to provide healthcare, education and other amenities to the village, which is situated approximately 100 kilometers to the east of Rwanda’s capital, Kibaji.

The church raised funds and actively participated in the construction of a basketball court within the local school in Cyabatanzi.

In conjunction with these efforts, the Riders provided essential basketball equipment, including t-shirts, jerseys, kit bags and basketballs, to facilitate the youth’s involvement in the sport.

This was made possible thanks to the efforts of the Leicester Riders Foundation, who generously donated the equipment.

The Riders’ affiliation with the church traces back to former Rider Patrick Whelan’s mother, Catherine. Along with 16 volunteers, Catherine visited Cyabatanzi to kick-start the project, which began in May 2022. 

The culmination of their efforts materialised in September, marked by the completion of the basketball court and the establishment of a basketball club for the village’s youth.

Catherine Whelan expressed her excitement about collaborating with the club, saying, “We were very excited to work with the Riders. With them, we can help to change the lives of the children in Cyabatanzi. 

“They were over the moon. As soon as the court went up, they were so excited to be wearing real basketball gear. They were so grateful to have a focus. 

“Who knows what can happen with those kids now? It can change their lives. It goes beyond explanation what having a court can do for them.”

Leicester Riders Managing Director Russell Levenston added: “We’re delighted to be able to contribute towards this terrific project and support the progression of basketball in Rwanda. 

“The support that Audacious Church continues to provide Cyabatanzi is impactful to so many, and we were honoured to assist in the mission.

“Thank you to Catherine for helping to make this happen, and for all the work she and the rest of the team put into making this incredible project happen.”

Catherine, who was recognised as one of Africa’s Top 10 basketball players over the last half-century by FIBA, emphasised the immeasurable value of providing access to sports in the lives of young people. 

She shared her own experience, saying, “I began playing basketball only because I had a court across from my house. That’s all I did before and after school. I feel incredibly strongly that something is going to come from that place. We’ve invested in the court, so now they can grow up with the sport like I did.”

Audacious Church’s involvement in Cyabatanzi extends into the future, as they plan to support Rwanda’s English in Action Programme during the upcoming summer. This program focuses on enhancing the quality of English teaching in the formal education system through a variety of strategic interventions.

For those interested in contributing to the church’s mission in Cyabatanzi, you can donate below.

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