by Francesca Monzone, Tutto Bici Web
There are wheels in Africa turning fast, they belong to emerging cyclists who dream of racing in Europe with the greatest sportspeople. They are the wheels of boys and girls who want to cross the sea, not only to participate in races as representatives of their country but to show everyone that they too are good and capable of winning.
The example for all is Eritrean Biniam Girmay, the first African to have won a medal at the World Cycling Championships and the first African to have won Gent-Wevelgem, which he did while wearing the jersey of Intermarché–Wanty–Gobert Matériaux.
Among these young people, there is a girl who at just 16 is considered to be the best talent in her country, Rwanda. Her name is Aline Uwera and she desires to be part of the national team and compete in the World Cup that her country will host in 2025. Aline has big black eyes and a smile capable of conquering everyone. In 2021, she joined the Israel – Premier Tech program together with her team, the Bugesera Cycling Club. Thanks to the “Racing for Change” project also supported by Italian Valentino Sciotti of Vini Fantini, eight girls have realized their dreams of racing on bikes.
Aline Uwera is the youngest of the group but at the same time she is the best, and since she started cycling, she has proven herself to be a real talent. An important victory came for her in January, when she set the best time in the time trial at the Heroes Cycling Cup, an annual competition created with the goal of discovering new talents in Rwandan cycling.
The 16-year-old from Bugesera was the fastest, writing a new record for this race – the runner-up arrived 8 minutes later. Last year in December, Aline participated in her first race, winning in Kibugabuga, near Kigali; then, in January, she made her season debut with a new victory, and in March she confirmed that she was really good and that this dream of becoming a cyclist will go on.
She left Rwanda for the first time last month to race at the African Championships, which took place in Egypt. On 24 March she finished sixth in the time trial and just two days later she took the bronze medal in the road test. Aline’s was not just any race, because all the women of Rwanda were pushing on the pedals with her, proudly showing that life is changing for them.
Without knowing it, Aline with her bike has become the symbol of an important revolution. It is a revolution of Rwandan girls who are understanding the important change and opportunities that come with sport. Aline’s result came to be thanks to her desire to prove herself, because, from the group of athletes who raced in Egypt, she was the one with the least experience, the one who had most recently started bike racing.
Her name has now become famous in Africa and she, the daughter of hope, has realized her first dream: to participate in a race outside Rwanda.
Her name has now become famous in Africa and she, the daughter of hope, has realized her first dream: to participate in a race outside Rwanda. Her second goal is to race in Europe, to do well, and demonstrate how an opportunity like cycling can improve people’s lives.
Aline lives in a house in Bugasera where there is no electricity, and the hours are marked by the rising and setting of the sun. In her house, where the roof is light sheet metal, she shares her room with a cow, the most precious possession of her family. Her origins are simple, while more complicated are the problems she and her community face every day.
Bikes have been brought to Bugesera and a development project has been created that revolves around two wheels, the fulcrum from which every activity, from study to sport, starts. This project sees the bike at the center of difficult realities, where hunger and illiteracy are the obstacles around every corner. A bike in areas like this represents a lifeline because it is the means that allows you to go to school and improve your position.
In Bugesera, 50 bikes were delivered by the team, to this community where English courses have also been activated and a real cycling school has been set up. If Africa is growing fast, the girls of Rwanda will contribute to the development of their country through the “Racing for Change” project. Israel – Premier Tech has begun to intensify its activity in Africa and among their projects is that of a large sports center dedicated to cycling, in which, once again, it will be the bike that creates change and gives opportunities, improving people’s lives.
This article was published with permission from Francesca Monzone and Tutto Bici Web. Read the original.
Photos courtesy of Ziv Sherzer.