When Israel’s pro cycling team, Israel Premier Tech, competed for the first time in the Tour du Rwanda a few years ago, they discovered a women’s cycling team in Bugesera, an eastern district lacking any proper cycling infrastructure.
And so, as part of team co-owner and philanthropist Sylvan Adams’ two-year-old Racing For Change initiative, the team recruited support from Israeli donors and more than 1,000 fans worldwide to build the 60-acre Field of Dreams cycling center.
Inaugurated in February, the center features a 1.2-kilometer race track and a pump track designed and constructed by Swiss firm Velosolutions. It’s the first bike center of its kind in Rwanda, and one of the first of its kind on the African continent.
“This Field of Dreams is a gift of a lifetime to the youth of Bugesera and the whole of Rwanda,” said Richard Mutabazi, mayor of Bugesera.
“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.”
IPT lead rider Chris Froome, who incidentally was born in Kenya, said, “Witnessing the joy on the kids’ faces while they rode felt like a great victory. It is a gamechanger project.”
The inaugural ceremony was attended by UCI World Cycling Center representatives as well as IPT team owners Adams and Ron Baron, and Israeli Ambassador to Rwanda Ron Adam. Adams announced that a biking academy will be built on the site in the future.
The Bugesera District is home to around 200 schools and 40,000 youth, but few own bicycles. The new facility will provide coaches for youth and will also host races of the Rwanda Cycling Federation.
Rwanda is set to host Africa’s first UCI Road World Championships in 2025.
UCI WCC Director Jacques Landry called the Field of Dreams bike center a “fantastic initiative by Israel Premier Tech that 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.”