Rwandan football team after genocide

Craig Woodhouse

It is 17 years since an estimated 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis, were killed in theRwandan genocide. Out of that horrific event has come a beacon of hope – the country’s under-17 football team, many of them children of the genocide, has qualified for next month’s under-17 World Cup where they will play England in the first round.

The Junior Wasps, as they are known, visited Parliament following a match against Tottenham (they drew 0-0 with Spurs’ development side).

They were in Westminster as part of Project Umubano, the Conservative Party’s social action project in Rwanda, and were welcomed by MPs including Sports Minister Hugh Robertson.

Assistant coach Vincent Mashami said it was a “great pleasure” to be in Parliament and paid tribute to the Tories’ project for getting them this far. But for me, project leader Stephen Crabb MP (pictured with the team) summed it up. “They are an inspirational group of players,” he said. “Exactly 17 years ago Rwanda was in the middle of a genocide which left almost a million of its citizens dead. Today this Under-17s team stand as a powerful embodiment of the hope and renewal of the nation.

It is a fantastic achievement that they have qualified for next months’ Under 17 World Cup in Mexico and we wish them every success.

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