Celebrating International Women’s Day with Innocente Uwamahoro — Leading Bugesera Women’s Cycling Team

Team Africa Rising talked to Innocente Uwamahoro, the Team Director of Bugeseara Cycling Team (BCT) about her unique role as one of the few women directors in the sport of cycling in Rwanda. BCT launched in 2019 and is the second all women’s team in the country. BCT falls under an organization, Rwanda Children, a school, medical clinic, and vocational training initiative for children and their parents. Rwanda Children added cycling to their initiative when they saw how a bicycle could help young girls with their self-esteem, education, and confidence. Innocente is an exemplary role model for these young women, learning a sport and excelling in directing BCT to ever-improving results on the Rwandan race scene. Innocente is also a new mother balancing her work, family, and these young women of BCT who depend on her. Innocente exemplifies the International Women’s Day slogan #BreakTheBias

What is your current position with the Bugesera Women’s Cycling Team?

My current job with the Bugesera Cycling Team is to ensure the team’s vision and mission are being implemented by everyone in the team, coaches, the girls, and their parents. I deal with day-to-day activities that take place at the girls’ center. I am responsible for the team events organizations. I have to monitor the coaches, mechanic, and other team members’ activities for the team performance, to make sure the coaches get their salary on time, provide guidance and counseling to everyone in the team. I work hand in hand with the media house for better communication and awareness. I accompany the girls during competitions, working with the coaches for a better training plan. I am responsible for reporting to the district, Rwanda Governance Board, and all our partners every time it’s needed. I also organize team meetings.   

Are you a cyclist?

I am not a professional cyclist but riding a bike is my sport. I am a sportive woman who used to be an athlete during my childhood. During my teaching career, I became a sports teacher, which led me to be an athletics coach with a Level 1 Certificate. I’ve attended many sports seminars to learn and receive many certificates.   

Why did you get involved with the women’s cycling team?

I am involved with the Bugesera Women’s Cycling Team because I wanted to contribute to these young talented girls who need good role models to become powerful women of the future. I want to show them that with Discipline, Education and Talent, they will have a bright future. Also, I want to let people see how talent can be mixed with Discipline and Education to make a complete human being. Sports is not for the uneducated person, and the girls too are capable of combining all of these three aspects. 

What do you like most about working with BCT and the girls?

What I like most about working with BCT and the Girls is how many people appreciated the concept of BCT of raising talented young girls with Discipline, Education, and Biking! I also enjoyed how I met many people, especially powerful women like you, who always fight for girls’ rights and futures. I have many role models on this journey. I learned a lot from the challenges we faced and continue to face. I like the courage of the girls we are raising now and how they are dreaming high, this is my motivation.  

What is your hope for these girls?

My hope for these girls is to see them all over the world, performing in different activities, and to see them leading the Cycling Federation. I want to see them being national coaches, to see them becoming the bike technician, and to see them being powerful women who can represent our country, and so on. 

What does this team mean for these girls?

The team for the girls means the second parents, where they feel comfortable to realize their dreams. They are secured for studying, secured to eat, secured to get medical treatments, and nothing can disturb them. 

Anything else you’d like to add?

In addition, we would love for our staff and team members to get many trainings on cycling, like sending Hubert here to train our coaches on the use of Zwift. We want them to become more professional on it! I would like to thank you so much for everything you are doing for the BCT, Rwanda, and Africa! 

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