The Amavubi bonus dilemma

This week Times Sports picked on a very interesting but unfortunate story regarding, the “meager” bonuses paid to Amavubi players.
Mansur Kakimba
Mansur Kakimba

This week Times Sports picked on a very interesting but unfortunate story regarding, the “meager” bonuses paid to Amavubi players.

It was quite balanced with all the voices authoritative on the issue. For me, it is such critical issues that will definitely affect performance of the national side come March 22 against Mali in the World Cup 2014 qualifier.

Reading the story, carefully, and gauging how this unfortunate situation could be fixed, the Sports ministry offers no solutions but instead (its) remarks might bring more divisionism in the Amavubi camp.

The Sports minister says, “Foreign-based players, who would refuse to play for Amavubi, should be punished to avoid a bad atmosphere in the national team”

“Many of these players are mercenaries who were given Rwandan nationality and this is why I am advocating to fielding young Rwandan players who are proud to play for their nation”.

I am sorry but I find the minister’s statements conflicting. The first bit of it indicates that they need foreign based players, but the second part reveals the inner feelings about some of these players--the so called “mercenaries”.

First of all, in the quest to shine as Amavubi, we went for these foreigners (players) and granted them Nationality out of good will:

 Now, arguing that, “many of these players are mercenaries who were given Rwandan nationality and this is why I am advocating to fielding young Rwandan players who are proud to play for their nation” is an understatement that does not solve the problem but instead brings about bad spirit.

Let’s digest this even further, Skipper Olivier Karekezi’s remarks are honest: “The issue of match bonuses has been critical in the success of our national team. The money we’re given these days when we honour the Amavubi call range between US$300 and US$700 for a win, which is too little.”

Clearly, it has nothing to do with the players’ original nationality. Calling them names: “Mercenaries” is disrespectful. Rwanda today is a bigger economy than it was 5-10 years ago, if we could pay these players US$2000 in bonuses then, why only US$300 today yet we’re richer as an economy? These are international players who rate themselves with peers from other countries.

Patriotism yes, but under fair terms. I call it dilemma because if coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojovic is keen on fielding a number of international stars to ‘match’ Mali standards yet Hon Minister prefers local talent, I foresee mixed reactions, feelings and chaos in the camp if Malians beat us.

 I hate it seeing institutions wasting time and national resources on fixing symptoms rather than causes. The symptom today is underperformance of Amavubi.

So we rush to fly in a good coach, and fire underperformers. If the leaders of local football governing body (Ferwafa) are serious about their work, they need to do  thorough research on the root causes of uncompetitive football in Rwanda, draw lessons from successful nations like Ghana and South Africa to design a comprehensive strategy for developing football in the country.

 How do you start granting foreigners nationality because you want to win matches? It is ridiculous!

As if you don’t have local talent that you can nurture. The advantage Rwanda has is that unlike some other countries in the region where money allocated to developing the sport ends up in leaders’ pockets, we are quite certain that financing a comprehensive long-term strategy will yield results.

Moreover, it is quite embarrassing for a nation whose President is so passionate about sport not to do certain things right and thus underperform.

That said, I don’t expect a miracle when Amavubi take on Mali on March 22 given the state of affairs at hand. And when we lose yet again coach Micho might be the next to be shown the exit.

 

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