Ruanda, All Africa, Inglês


South African Laurence Mahatlane was Wednesday, April 17, appointed new head coach of Rwanda’s men’s senior team after penning a three-year contract, renewable.

He replaces Englishman Lee Booth, who left the post in December 2023 when his six-month contract expired. Booth took over front Kenyan Martin Suji.

While confirming the new coach, the local cricket governing body (RCA) was convinced that Mahatlane brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the role, having previously coached both the Uganda and South Africa U19 teams.

Particularly, his stints with Uganda and South Africa U19, it is believed that they were marked by noticeable achievements and the development of young players, setting a firm foundation for success.

Previously, Mahatlane, who was on a three-year contract, left his role as head coach of the Uganda Cricket Cranes in October 2023. The circumstances of his departure, a month before the ICC World Cup qualifiers, remain shredded in mystery.

He had been in charge of the Cricket Cranes since 2020 when he replaced Kenyan Steve Tikolo, and the South African is credited for overseeing the growth of the Uganda team especially in T20 format.

He was also, previously, the deputy coach for the Higveld Lions in mid-2000s before taking up South Africa U19 team in 2014.

It’s not too hard to assume that the opportunity to coach Rwanda, a team with enormous potential for growth, is one that Mahatlane could not turn down, when approached by the RCA.

And, probably, he must have been given enough assurances (of potential growth), and sizeable security in his job when he accepted a three-year contract, with an option for renewal.

Mahatlane brings experience, not just to the national team, but to broader Rwandan cricket, which can only be a good thing as the RCA embarks on an unenviable task of taking the sport to another level.

Prior to his stint with the South African U19 squad, Mahatlane’s journey to Rwanda, has seen him gain experience at the Central Gauteng Lions, Gauteng U19.

The 47-year old former player, has also been part of South Africa’s national academy selection committee, in addition to his role as a coach mentor.

Mahatlane excited

After announcing his appointment, Mahatlane expressed his excitement for the opportunity to “contribute to the growth of cricket in Rwanda.”

“I am honored and excited to join the Rwanda Cricket Association as the head coach of the men’s senior team. I am committed to building upon the solid groundwork laid by the RCA and look forward to not only creating a successful team but also a sustainable system that will ensure long term success,” he added.

RCA president Stephen Musaale said, “We are thrilled to welcome Laurence Mahatlane to the Rwanda Cricket Association family.”

“His proven track record and passion for cricket development make him the ideal candidate to lead our men’s senior team to new heights.

We look forward to the positive impact he will undoubtedly have on our players and the cricketing community as a whole,” Musaale noted.

The best possible candidate?

Clearly, there are not so many better qualified or ideal candidates for the Rwanda job than Mahatlane, but the Rwandan cricket fans will hope that he will be able to use his experience to help to continue the development of both the team’s current players and future stars.

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His past experiences with the different teams in his native South Africa as well with Uganda, makes Mahatlane the best possible candidate for the task to unlock Rwanda’s potential and upgrade the team that had stagnated.

What we say

The current pool of national team players, for some reasons, have either struggled consistently to produce the goods when required or failed to fulfil their potential, altogether.

However, the RCA and the supporters will be holding on the hope that Mahatlane’s extensive experience in nurturing talent and fostering a winning mentality, will do the magic of improving not only the form of a number of current players, but their overall attitude and focus.

The new coach has the opportunity to do whatever he deems right and good for the team, which includes making it clear to get current team that no player is indispensable.

Professionalism has to be made one of the top priorities, plus, players must be selected on merit, with emphasis of course on form, discipline, mental and physical fitness, among others.

Rwanda’s last international engagement was at the Africa Cricket Association (ACA) T20 Cup Finals League in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The team, that, in all honesty, seemed stalled under former coach Lee Booth had a very difficult three weeks in southern Africa, having connected to Johannesburg from Namibia where they participated in the 2024 T20 World Cup Qualifiers.