As the annual Kwibuka T20 Tournament kicks off, the Victoria Pearls, Uganda’s Women’s National cricket team, are determined to express their love, unity, and solidarity with Rwanda.
Captain Concy Aweko emphasizes that their participation in the tournament goes beyond cricket.
It serves as an emotional occasion to remember the victims of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi and to honor the heroes in their lives, coinciding with Uganda’s National Heroes Day tomorrow, June 9th.
Aweko passionately expressed, “Even though we may be a few miles from home, we carry our own heroes day in our hearts. Heroes are individuals we personally choose, and for me, my mom and dad are my true heroes.”
“As a team, we are committed to upholding the strong bond we share with Rwanda. Participating in this tournament for the past six years has nurtured a sense of love and unity among us.” Aweko added,
With their eyes on a third Kwibuka Title, the Victoria Pearls are a force to be reckoned with.
They have had a remarkable track record, having emerged victorious in the 2014 and 2016 editions of the tournament.
Ranked 19th in the world, they enter the competition as favorites, which also makes them a target for their opponents.
“Our preparation has been extensive and thorough. Over the past three weeks, we have received guidance from our strength and conditioning coach and our other coaches.” Aweko emphasized.
“It’s important though, to note that these preparations are just one part of the overall process. We have also utilized previous tournaments to fine-tune our skills and address any areas that needed improvement.”
One notable aspect of the Victoria Pearls is the inclusion of young talent in their team.
Lorna Anyait and Malisa Ariokot, who are making their senior team debut, bring fresh energy to the squad.
“Being part of the senior team is a dream come true for me. I’m grateful for this chance and ready to contribute to the team’s success.” Ariokot expressed her excitement about the opportunity.
“The inclusion of young players signifies the growth and development of the sport. These girls are from the under 19 team, and one of them had the opportunity to tour with us in Namibia, while the other two are making their debuts.” Aweko further emphasized the significance of fostering young talent.
“Despite their young age, I remind them that we are here as a team to learn and embrace every opportunity that comes our way. They are the future stars and potential captains of the senior team.”
However, the Victoria Pearls are not without challenges. As favorites, they face the pressure of maintaining their reputation and avoiding defeats against lower-ranked teams.
The tournament features tough competitors such as defending champions Kenya, ranked 23rd in the world, and hosts Rwanda, ranked 26th.
Nigeria and Botswana, ranked 29th and 41st respectively, are also vying for glory.
So with T20 international status and world rankings at stake, every match is crucial.
With the tournament set to honor the victims of the Rwandan genocide, the Victoria Pearls carry not only the hopes and aspirations of their nation but also the weight of remembrance and unity.
The tournament will follow a single round-robin format, culminating in a final showdown between the top two teams.
The Victoria Pearls will commence their campaign with a highly anticipated opener against Kenya at the IPRC grounds on Monday morning at 10.
In the afternoon, they will face Nigeria at the same venue, aiming to make a strong statement in their pursuit of victory.
The Final 14:
Consy Aweko (Captain), Janet Mbabazi, Phiona Khulume, Kevin Awino, Irene Alumo, Proscovia Alako, Patricia Malemikia, Immaculate Nakisuyi, Stephanie Nampiina, Evelyn Anyipo, Rita Musamali, Malisa Ariokot, Lorna Anyait, Jimia Mohammad.
Lawrence Ssematimba (Head Coach), Lawrence Ssempijja (Assistant Coach), Tugume Imam (Physiotherapist), Edgar Kazibwe (Pshychologist), Deus Muhumuza (Analyst), Denis Musali (Media Manager), Mary Nakinga (Team Manager).