BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
ZIMBABWEAN cricket coach Leonard Nhamburo is relishing the opportunity of playing a leading role in transforming the Rwanda national women’s cricket team from minnows into a competitive side on the continent after being named as their new coach on a two-year contract last week.
The Rwanda job is Nhamburo’s second coaching assignment outside the country having previously coached Namibia, guiding them to the final of the 2019 ICC Women’s Qualifier Africa held in Zimbabwe.
Nhamburo has also enjoyed recent success locally after leading local women’s side Eagles to victory in the inaugural edition of the Zimbabwe Cricket women’s provincial Twenty20 tournament last month.
Now the softspoken but gifted coach from Harare’s high-density suburb of Glen View is savouring the chance to work in Rwanda which boasts of one of the biggest development programmes on the continent.
The Rwanda Cricket Association has been aggressively investing in the development of women’s cricket and last year they were awarded the 100% Cricket Female Participation Programme of the Year Award during the ICC Development Awards held in July.
“It’s going to be a good challenge and I’m looking forward to getting tested in a foreign land again and with a team similar to the one I used to coach before in Namibia and see how it goes,” Nhamburo said in an interview from his new base in Kigali yesterday.
“I will work hard to make sure that the team performs to the required standards and improve the way they have been playing. I want to leave a mark as a coach, because as coaches we move from one place to the other and wherever you go you need to leave a good mark and end on a positive note.”
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Nhamburo, who has had stints as assistant and interim coach of the Zimbabwe’s women’s team, was credited for transforming the Namibia women’s side into a competitive outfit during his brief stint with the Southern African nation.
Nhamburo’s side entered the 2019 ICC Women’s Qualifier Africa tournament as rank outsiders, but overcame favourites Uganda and Kenya to reach the final, where they lost to Zimbabwe’s by 50 runs.
Although Namibia initially missed out on an automatic ticket to the ICC Global Qualifiers, they were handed a lifeline when the world cricket governing body suspended Zimbabwe for government interference in the administration of the local game.
Namibia replaced Zimbabwe and went on to participate in the ICC Global Qualifiers in Scotland as Africa’s representatives in what was a major achievement for the side.
Nhamburo hopes he will have more success in Rwanda after being given a longer contract than the one he had in Nambia.
“In Namibia I had a short-term contract and I managed to get them to perform well, but now with Rwanda I am going to have more time with them which gives me the opportunity to get a better understanding of their game and plan,” he said.
Nhamburo’s first big test with the Rwanda side will come in October when he leads the East African side in the 2021 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Africa Qualifier to be hosted by Botswana.