A year after its grand opening, the Field of Dreams cycling center, initiated by the Israel – Premier Tech team and its owner Sylvan Adams with the generous support of over 1000 team fans, celebrated its first anniversary on Friday. Designed to unearth and develop cycling talent in Central Africa, this center has lived up to its inspirational mantra, “build it, and they will come”, becoming a cornerstone for the youth and the broader community in Bugesera, Rwanda.

The anniversary event was graced by the presence of four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome, marking his second visit since the center’s inauguration. Froome’s participation in the day’s activities, especially riding with the children, was a highlight. Reflecting on the center’s impact, Froome said: “It was really amazing to be back here again, one year on, and seeing how far the project has come along. It’s one thing to have delivered the pump track and road circuit, but seeing how the community has embraced it – not just with people riding, but also coaching – is amazing.

“The ultimate goal over the next decade is to have somebody from Bugesera reach the top level of professional cycling. If that were to happen, that would be a dream come true, and I believe it’s possible. Seeing first-hand how the Field of Dreams has changed so many lives is pretty hard to comprehend. I cannot wait to return in future years to see the progress!”

Guy Sagiv at the Field of Dreams
Photo: IPT rider Guy Sagiv meets a local rider who trains at the Field of Dreams

Israel – Premier Tech team owner Sylvan Adams, although unable to attend, sent his warm words and reaffirmed his commitment to the progress of the project: He said: “I am sorry I could not be there in person this year, but I am proud of the work that my Israel – Premier Tech bike team did in Rwanda, in building this Field of Dreams for aspiring cyclists of all ages. This project, realized with the help of our many fans worldwide, reflects our Jewish values of improving our world and promoting peace and friendship globally. Despite the challenges, including the tragic events of 7 October, we are inspired by the resilience of both the Israeli and Rwandan peoples. We look forward to the possibility of the Field of Dreams being a key location in next year’s World Championship road race in Rwanda. Rest assured, we are not finished adding to our project.”

Since its inauguration, the center has hosted a record-breaking eight weekends of junior racing on its race track, showcasing its impact for all to see.

Simon Hupperetz, the UCI representative to Rwanda, echoed Froome’s sentiments, highlighting the center’s crucial role in organizing the Rwanda Youth Racing Cup, which has seen increasing participation since its inception. “The record participation at the Field of Dreams in Bugesera underscores the project’s success in attracting and nurturing young talent,” Hufpritz noted. The center has also hosted a series of training camps led by the Rwanda Cycling Federation and the UCI for aspiring new coaches and commissaires.

Photo: The skills learned on the pump track were already clear to see

Einat Weiss, the Israeli Ambassador to Rwanda, Mayor of Bugesera Richard Mutabazi, and Rwandan Cycling Federation Ndayishimiye Samson all attended the event.

“This project, the Field of Dreams, is the result of a partnership that started as a dream,” said Mutabazi. “We had a dream that we could make an impact in the community through sports infrastructure. Today we celebrate the success of the year and look to the future.”

Ambassador Weiss, who helped start one of the many races held on the road circuit, added: “I’m humbled to be here. Keep on with this amazing work and empowering the youth. I’m sure one day that we will have one of the best riders in the world coming from the Field of Dreams.”

Speaking on behalf of the Rwandan Cycling Federation, Samson added: “Our partnership with Israel – Premier Tech is a source of great pride for us, and it benefited our new generation so impressively. We look forward to build on it.”

Photo: IPT riders tested out the game-changing road circuit

The GSF Foundation, which provided the land for the bike center, observed a significant positive shift within the community. “The pump track and road circuit have become hubs of activity, skill-building, and fun for the children of Bugesera. Many have become instructors, enriching their lives and those around them,” said the foundation’s manager. The allure of the center has even prompted families to relocate to Bugesera, thereby enhancing community ties.

Shaul Hatzir, instrumental in the project’s development, reflected on the year’s achievements: “The Field of Dreams has significantly enriched Rwanda’s cycling community,” Hatzir said. “Our collaboration with the Cycling Federation, GSF, and the Bugesera district underpins our ongoing commitment to this dream.”

Photo: IPT’s Tour du Rwanda squad with the children who competed in the pump track races

As the Field of Dreams cycling center embarks on another year, it reaffirms its commitment to broadening its reach and impact. The plan is for the introduction of new race bikes for children and the establishment of junior cycling teams in local schools to elevate the center’s mission further. The anniversary event not only celebrated the achievements to date but also set the stage for future growth, embodying the spirit of collaboration and community that makes the Field of Dreams a true beacon of hope and development in Rwandan cycling.

Photo: the people of Bugesera turned out en masse to celebrate the achievements of the Field of Dreams

Following the Field of Dreams event, the team visited the nearby Ntarama Genocide Memorial Centre and laid a wreath in memory of the 5,000 people who lost their lives there in 1994.