Rwanda football: The rot starts at the top

By the look of things Rwanda can rightly be christened ‘the graveyard of foreign football coaches’. Let us look at the startling statistics: In the last 12 years, the national side, Amavubi Stars has had an incredible SEVEN foreign coaches. And counting.
Paul Ntambara
Paul Ntambara

By the look of things Rwanda can rightly be christened ‘the graveyard of foreign football coaches’. Let us look at the startling statistics: In the last 12 years, the national side, Amavubi Stars has had an incredible SEVEN foreign coaches. And counting.

Let us take a peek into the list; Ratomir Dujkovic, Roger Palmgren, Michael Nees, Josip Kuze, Branco Tucak, Sellas Tetteh and the latest causality; Milutin Micho Sredojevic. On average this makes it about a year for each coach to sit in the hot seat.

So it is no longer an April 1 fools day prank as was published before in this paper (I fell for it!), Micho has actually been sacked by the honchos at the soccer governing body Ferwafa. I will not bore you with details of Micho’s report card; you have probably read enough about this in the previous sports pages.

What is clear is that there is nothing much to write home about the performance of the national side under Micho, shambolic is the word.

And it is not like Micho cared less, his antics both off and on the coaching bench showed a man weighed down by an insurmountable task.

Two months ago, I bumped into the tactician in one upscale café in Kacyiru, a city suburb. Ensconced in a corner, Micho looked to be lost in deep thought. Whatever was on his mind, football must have been within its environs.

And when his order was delivered, he was in no hurry to devour it; he could be seen repeatedly poking a fork in the steamed rice like a petulant child, the food didn’t interest him, nothing seemed to. He stormed out, leaving a plateful!

Did all the coaches become bad overnight?

All the tacticians that have handled the national side have been recruited on a basis of impressive records in their previous engagements. But it has largely been the same doomed ending for all of them.

The problem with Rwandan football is not squarely about coaches, it is about how our football is organised and managed. With an uncompetitive league, the national side lacks a large pool of players to choose from.

Foreign coaches will not invent players; there should be elaborate structures in place to produce these players.

Unrealistic demands?

One could point at the 2004 maiden participation at the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Tunisia as a major highlight of Rwandan football but a forensic audit of the campaign will show you some unpalatable truths.

Yes we had a crop of few talented local players mainly from APR Football Club but we should also recall that we also ‘shopped’ expensively. Players of all colors and tribes became Rwandans overnight.

While this was not an entirely bad thing to do given the circumstances, the honchos at the Ministry of Sports and Ferwafa had no clue on how to move forward. There was no elaborate plan to build on the success of 2004.

Burying our heads in the sand

The biggest question is for how long will taxpayer’s money be wasted on recruiting foreign coaches when it is clear to even a toddler that what is required of them is untenable? For how long will the appointing authority continue to hire and fire?

The coaches here have nothing to lose. They will agree for example a hefty two year contract, earn their pay and move on but the country has everything to lose.

Micho made a ridiculous promise; to take Rwanda to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and the honchos at the Ministry and Ferwafa brazenly fell for it!

Home grown or mercenaries?

The confusion at the sports ministry and football governing body is clear for all to see. One day its home grown players and the next we see a truck load of ‘mercenaries’ for the national side.

Two former linesmen

The fiasco continues with the election of two former linesmen at the helm of Rwanda football governing body Ferwafa. Their tenure has been nothing more than disastrous.

Picking up cock fights with the local media has been top on their agenda. It has all been about self preservation. They look clueless in terms of how football will be developed.


Way forward

It is now or never. Football lovers, the media and other organizations should make their voices heard. Football should not be allowed to die because of a few inefficient managers at the helm. Ferwafa elections are up in November, football can’t afford any more mistakes.

 

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