Rwanda Sports

Adrien Niyonshuti, “one of the most famous people in Rwanda”, competing in the cross-country mountain biking event at the 2012 Summer Olympics,

The Rwandan government, through its Sports Development Policy, promotes sport as a strong avenue for “development and peace building”, and the government has made commitments to advancing the use of sport for a variety of development objectives, including education. The most popular sports in Rwanda are association football, volleyball, basketball, athletics and Paralympic sports. Cricket has been growing in popularity, as a result of refugees returned from Kenya, where they had learned to play the game. Cycling, traditionally seen largely as a mode of transport in Rwanda, is also growing in popularity as a sport; and Team Rwanda have been the subject of a book, Land of Second Chances: The Impossible Rise of Rwanda’s Cycling Team and a film, Rising from Ashes.

Rwandans have been competing at the Olympic Games since 1984, and the Paralympic Games since 2004. The country sent seven competitors to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, representing it in athletics, swimming, mountain biking and judo, and 15 competitors to the London Summer Paralympics to compete in athletics, power lifting and sitting volleyball. The country has also participated in the Commonwealth Games since joining the Commonwealth in 2009. The country’s national basketball team has been growing in prominence since the mid-2000s, with the men’s team qualifying for the final stages of the African Basketball Championship four times in a row since 2007.

The country bid unsuccessfully to host the 2013 tournament. Rwanda’s national football team has appeared in the African Cup of Nations once, in the 2004 edition of the tournament, but narrowly failed to advance beyond the group stages. The team has failed to qualify for the competition since, and have never qualified for the World Cup. Rwanda’s highest domestic football competition is the Rwanda National Football League; as of 2015, the dominant team is APR FC of Kigali, having won 13 of the last 17 championships. Rwandan clubs participate in the Kagame Inter club Cup for Central and East African teams, sponsored since 2002 by President Kagame.