Rayon Sports last Wednesday celebrated their seventh Rwandan league title at Amahoro National Stadium but the event looks broader than merely winning the league.
The Blues are one of the oldest clubs in Rwanda with a huge fan base but which has been overshadowed by the APR Football Club for almost a decade.
As I had indicated in a previous column, the Blues’ return to prominence has taken rival teams fans by surprise to say the least, considering the manner in which the club fast faded and decided to retreat to Nyanza, in Southern Province, their ancestral home.
Of course I had compared this to the infamous Atraco escapades that waned and eventually extinguished without a trace.
And the biggest challenge to the football clubs like anywhere else is management and financial accountability. Otherwise, Rayon Sports, APR, Police, Kiyovu and other clubs command enviable followings to thrive on.
It’s an open secret that the Blues were in terrible financial crisis, couldn’t sustain it in Kigali and the only viable option was to relocate to their original home base for reorganisation.
The club’s fortunes are taking shape under patronage of the Nyanza District Mayor Abdallah Murenzi, who really deserves a big applaud.
And the team is really organised, very ambitious and entertaining to watch. They have enjoyable new signings like Cedric Amissi a Burundian international, who has been instrumental in leading them to success.
The talented playmaker has made crucial assists in the most convincing wins- including humbling arch-rivals APR to a 4-0 at Amahoro Stadium and scored 15 league goals so far.
Yes, they look confident but they need more new faces to withstand opponents, defend the title and compete well in next year’s Kagame Cup and CAF Champions League.
Most importantly, the club’s interim management should be hailed for bringing in the French coach Didier Gomez da Rosa who has rejuvenated the entire squad.
Once a player or a coach demonstrates enviable talent, the club managements ought to appreciate and motivate him to aspire higher and ignore possible approach from rival teams.
I mean a new coach, who is unbeaten in 19 league matches, needs good backing and unwavering retaining. A new talismanic midfielder of Amissi’s calibre attracts the attention of other big teams, who may wish to sign him.
The club management needs to create friendly interaction with the coach, listen to his player transfer options and together agree on the way forward. A new coach who thrills bitter rivals on clean sheet and other opponents on whooping 6-1 deserves an envious bond.
And more importantly, however, the Blues’ evident insatiable goal thirst and mean defense is good remainder to opponents at the season end to turn to the drawing table, identify weaknesses and begin the next season in a better shape.
Likewise, claiming a title after nine years is a big huge achievement; but the club needs to to reflect on the weaknesses and challenges to avoid a repeat and likely maneuver from opponents. It’s only then that future aspirations can be competed for successfully.
Rayon Sports are not the only serious challenge to APR’s dominance. The fact that Police FC are ending the season as runner-up for the third straight season is proof that they not only exist but are equally ambitious, and with better investment in new and good players, they too can be a real force.