The “gift of a lifetime.”
A one-in-a-kind bike center built in Rwanda by IPT, inaugurated in an emotional ceremony
Chris Froome, after training with youth on the pump track and racing on the new race track: “To witness those smiles felt like a great victory. It’s a game-changer of a project.”
In front of an enthusiastic crowd, with kids riding cheerfully on the new pump track, UCI ProTeam Israel – Premier Tech and one of its members, African-born cycling legend Chris Froome, officially inaugurated a bike center in Bugesera, Rwanda. Also featuring a 1.2 km race track, the Field of Dreams cycling center is unique in the region.
“Witnessing the joy on the kids’ faces while they rode felt like a great victory. It is a game-changer project,” said the four-time Tour de France winner, who joined the youngsters while they tackled the up-and-down rollercoaster intended to help develop technical cycling skills.
The “Field of Dreams” center, built by Israel – Premier Tech (IPT) with the support of more than a thousand cycling fans, will enable many thousands of kids to take on cycling. It will be a significant boost to the sport in the country that will host Africa’s first UCI Road World Championships in 2025.
UCI World Cycling Centre (UCI WCC) representatives attended the inauguration ceremony alongside IPT team owners Sylvan Adams and Ron Baron, the Governor of the Province, and Israeli Ambassador to Rwanda Ron Adam. The UCI WCC warmly praised and endorsed the IPT flagship “Racing for Change” project as a vehicle to develop cycling in the country.
UCI WCC Director Jacques Landry, who attended the inauguration, applauded the initiative. “The Field of Dreams bike center is perfectly in line with the UCI World Cycling Centre’s development activities in view of Rwanda organizing the first UCI Road World Championships on the African continent in 2025. This fantastic initiative by Israel – Premier Tech will enable youngsters from Bugesera to get on their bikes and discover the beauty of our sport. Additionally, the youth races that will be organized on a permanent basis could well reveal some exciting new talents.”
The two facilities – the pump track designed and constructed by Swiss company Velosolutions and the 1.2 km-long race track – , are the first-ever built in Rwanda and are hard to find anywhere in Africa. The plan is to introduce races on the race track on a weekly basis with riders from all over Rwanda.
The first of these races took place during the opening celebration, when the Israel – Premier Tech squad, in the country to race in the Tour du Rwanda, faced the Bugesera Women Cycling Team, which has been coached and supported by the Israeli team since the Racing for Change project was launched two years ago.
The new facility is intended to be multi-purpose and multi-faceted. The Rwanda Cycling Federation will use the Field of Dreams track for races while kids from hundreds of local villages in the district will be coached and trained under the supervision of experienced locals.
A special program for training local guides from the surrounding villages was recently launched by Israeli pump track instructor, Israel Kaufman. The head of the program reflected on the early sessions saying, “The enthusiasm of the kids experiencing this type of fun for the first time is overwhelming – it’s incredible!”.
The Bugesera District is home to approximately 200 schools and 40,000 youth – yet only a very few own bicycles. The new center presents an unprecedented opportunity for the young generation to get into cycling for the first time in their lives, said Richard Mutabazi, the Mayor of Bugesera. He explained, “This Field of Dreams is a gift of a lifetime to the youth of Bugesera and the whole of Rwanda. It is not a dream anymore – it’s a reality. We see it as a huge booster and our mission is to make the center an integral part of the kids’ lives. They deserve it.”
“It is pleasure for launching The Field of Dreams here we are today. It is remarkable in the sense that it is unique and we are hopeful that it is going to enhance sport vision in Rwanda; specifically, for the racing competition. This is a big vision for our nation. Thank you so much for establishing a unique infrastructure here in Rwanda,” said The Governor of the Province CG Emmanuel GASANA.
The Israeli Ambassador to Rwanda, Mr. Ron Adam, has praised the project as a great symbol of the special bond between Rwanda and Israel, two people that went through a genocide and the Holocaust, respectively, and emerged from the ashes.
Following the opening ceremony, the team and dignitaries held a memorial ceremony in the nearby church where a massacre occurred during the genocide. This was the spot where thousands of Tutsis took shelter but were attacked and most were killed. That was April 15, 1994.
Serge Gasore, one of the few survivors of the attack, was saved by his grandmother. She shielded the then-eight-year-old from the grenade which would end her own life.
He recalled, “My people were slaughtered, hit by grenades, shot, and hacked to death with machetes just because they were born Tutsi. Losing my grandmother was like losing everything. I felt like the sky had fallen on me at that moment. Since then, I was left alone, and many kids had a similar situation.”
Years later, he decided to dedicate his life to the community’s next generation by building a community center. Israel – Premier Tech partnered with the Serge Gasore Foundation, which allocated 60 acres of land to build the Field of Dreams. Of the new center, Gasore said, “Truly, words cannot express our gratitude for this gift. It will be a great tool, I hope, for joy and success.”
IPT owner Sylvan Adams praised the team’s fans in Israel and around the world for donating to the project, in addition to the generous donations made by his partners Ron Baron, Kevin Ham, and many others, including Israeli-Rwandan businessman Shaul Hatzir who was the leading force in constructing the facilities. Mr. Adams has declared his commitment to further developing the center with a future academy to be built on site. “We are here with the people that we consider as brothers and sisters – to stay. And we are only getting started!”