Nyanza District Mayor Erasme Ntazinda says the reintroduction of traditional sports will boost cultural tourism in the area as plans to construct State-of-the-art Nyanza Stadium are ongoing.
The district is set to hire a competent contractor to do a comprehensive study on the stadium’s masterplan which will have a special court for traditional sports featuring in the facility.
The 10,000- seater stadium will be built on an 18-hectare space in Mushirarungu, a hill located in Rwabicuma Sector, a few meters away from Nyanza town and is expected to have, among other features, a football pitch and training turfs that teams will use for pre-match warm-ups.
Traditional sport in Rwanda was a form of celebration, a friendly competition between community members during feasts and holidays or a way to honour visiting dignitaries. Friends and family, especially young men would participate in such events as wrestling, high jump, and archery.
The modern era of sport in Rwanda emerged gradually in the middle of the 20th century with greater exposure to international sports such as football (soccer), volleyball, track and field (athletics), and, later, basketball.
Football is the most popular team sport in Rwanda.
The arrival of new sports disciplines has over time relegated traditional sports as the new generation finds a bigger platform to shine in modern games than traditional ones.
As a result, the disappearance of traditional sport disciplines has been mainly influenced by lack of infrastructure for such games, leaving people with no choice but to either quit the sport or to play the games in their neighborhoods.
To bring traditional sports back to life in the area, Ntazinda told Times Sport that a special court for traditional sports will be built at the facility to give people and tourists a platform to perform for entertainment playing the games.
Nyanza is one of the tourist sites that attracts a big number of tourists.
With the district now attracting between 70 000 and 75 000 tourists every year, Ntazinda believes the new space could boost cultural tourism in the area.
“These are sports that we play during our cultural events like ‘Nyanza Twataramye’ but with no proper space for them. We thought of building a special space at the stadium so people can get a specific zone to play them. It will be an important space for not just our people but also for the tourists who will be visiting this place,” Ntazinda said in an interview.
“We hope to see more tourists visiting this place and have a good experience watching traditional games or even playing them at the new facility,” he added.
The district has advertised a tender in search of a competent contractor to do a study on how the master plan of the stadium will look like before the construction works
He said that details regarding the budget that will be spent on the construction of the stadium or when exactly the construction works will begin will be announced as soon as the study is finalised.
However, according to the district’s projections, the study is expected to be finalized by the end of 2020-21 fiscal year and construction works will start in the next fiscal year.
The district has not yet confirmed traditional games which will be hosted at the facility but Ntazinda revealed that they expect to hire, among the team that will do the study on the design of the facility, some members skilled in culture to identify traditional games that will fit the anticipated court.
Nyanza is regarded not just as Rwanda’s heart and center of cultural enlightenment, but it also once served as the kingdom’s capital around the 19th century with the royal monarch under Kigeli at Mwima next to Mushirarungu hill and today still holds the country’s cultural heritage tourism envisaged through the two museums – King’s palace at Rukali and the national Art gallery at Rwesero.