Racing for Change – Victory in Rwanda:

“My goal is to make it onto the national team. I hope this win was seen by the Federation.”

It was only a matter of time before the women from the Bugesera Cycling Team would claim their first victory under the Racing for Change banner. Aline Uwera, a junior rider for the team, won the Kibugabuga Race close to the capital, Kigali, this weekend.

The race weekend of December 18 and 19 will go into the books as one of the highlights of the Racing for Change program in Rwanda. Approximately a year and a half ago, Israel Start-Up Nation committed to helping the local community in Bugesera to improve their cycling culture, and today showed another mark of success.

‘I will prove I can win more’

“What a special feeling to be on the podium”, the sixteen-year-old Uwera said. “Being [from the] Bugesera Cycling Team, we had numerous disadvantages to our competitors – one other team had eight riders and we only had three – but we worked together as a team and I managed to win the junior race.”

Racing for Change trainer, Innocent Niyireba, said he was super proud of Uwera. “Winning while racing against a team with many more members than Bugesera this weekend is great. She showed her strength in a fabulous way.”

Niyireba mentioned that for the next race, he expects even better results. “We will allow talents from our district to race with us. Next time, when we also have eight riders on the road, we will be even more competitive.”

Uwera herself hopes to win again in the future. “This victory is very motivating. Since I have been training with the Israeli instructors from the Racing for Change program, I got stronger. I want to reach the national team of Rwanda. I hope the [Rwanda Cycling] Federation saw this race, and I want to prove to them again that I am capable of winning races.”

Israeli trainer Tal Alon, who led the Racing for Change training camp in Bugesera earlier this year, expressed her happiness as well. “This is a great result. The women were very committed during the camp to learning as much as they could. After that week, we kept on working together. We can see from their numbers that they are improving, so it was only a matter of time for them to achieve great results in races.”

Israel Start-Up Nation and Racing for Change

Racing for Change in Bugesera started in early 2020 when the team got to visit the women’s team in Rwanda for the first time. This year, Israel Start-Up Nation went back two times. During the last visit, the team organized a professional training camp and donated over fifty bikes. Since then, the Bugesera district can join rides organized by the Bugesera Cycling Team on a weekly basis.

In December, ISN will release a documentary about the training camp. In February, ahead of Israel Start-Up Nation’s participation in the Tour du Rwanda, the team will come back to Bugesera for another training camp. Uwera’s victory today was proof of commitment to Racing for Change from both ISN and the women of the Bugesera Cycling Team.

— Sjors Beukeboom to