Inter-school games a key to sports development

The Rwanda sports federation and the Ministry of Sports and Culture together with Rwanda National Olympic Committee must go back to support the inter-schools sports competition if the country is to unearth the next generation of future stars.
All the players on the national girls youth team are products of inter-schools competitions. Saturday Sport / File
All the players on the national girls youth team are products of inter-schools competitions. Saturday Sport / File

The Rwanda sports federation and the Ministry of Sports and Culture together with Rwanda National Olympic Committee must go back to support the inter-schools sports competition if the country is to unearth the next generation of future stars.

Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s until 2007, inter-school games were on a relatively high level and the clubs took advantage to scout for the most promising players in football, volleyball, basketball and athletics.

So many people from across the country paid much attention to the competitions and were coming in droves to watch the young boys and girls. However, as years passed by, the competitions have lost the flavour hence the drop in number of products.

So the best thing is that the all federations assess what is missing for the games to be resurrected  and be loved again as was the case a few years ago.

Inter-schools games have produced some of the country’s current top football players like Jean-Claude Iranzi from ASPEJ of Rwamagana and Haruna Niyonzima (Inyemeramihigo, Gisenyi ).

Gahini Secondary School produced the likes of Jean-Claude Ndoli as well as national team volleyball team players, Pierre Kwizera Marshal, Richard Muhirwa and Alexis Ntakirutimana among others, while Mutenderi Kibungo gave us football stars Hergman Ngomirakiza and Eric Serugaba.

There are other schools like ADEB Kigali, St Andre, Christ Roi, St Joseph, Petit Seminaire, CEFOTEK Butare, St Alloys Rwamagana, Groupe Scolaire Byumba, Groupe Scolaire Rwaza of Ruhengeri that used to produce very good players in basketball, volleyball. Not any more.

And if you compare the level of the inter-schools competitions of that time with what we have today, the difference is as clear as between day and night. The teams are not as competitive as before but, most importantly, the organisation leaves so much to be desired, and it’s really a pity.

Which is why the people managing sports in the country need to go back to the drawing board and find out where things are not going right as they used to ten years ago. You could find that even the students are no longer interested because they see no reason to.

Everyone must stand up and see if there’s something that can be done to have strong inter-schools competitions at primary and secondary school levels, where the athletes are at their most promising stage and easier to develop.

There is need to revive and promote traditional sports and games.

In countries where they know what it takes to compete at the highest level, ath­letes start to be prepared from a very young age and Rwanda must not allow to be left behind.

Our athletes are always not ready for the big tournaments because we have not prepared them well enough. If we did, it would help the national teams and we have to have continuity in everything that we do if the country is to be able to survive in this increasingly  competitive world.

The federations must start the plans to promote sports within schools where the country will get more athletes for the future. They need to go down to the grassroots, starting in primary schools and give the kids the basics of whatever sport they may be interested in.

It’s high time the Ministry of Sports and Culture together with Rwanda National Olympic Committee devise a plan of having more national athletes picked from schools.

These two institutions need to make sure that individual federations are promoting, developing, encour­aging and controlling all forms of sports in Rwandan schools.

This would undoubtedly have a posi­tive impact on the country’s showing in international competitions; it has worked for other countries, so there is no reason why it would fail for Rwanda.

In Rwanda someone starts to play at the age of 17 or 18 years and after few years you will not see him again because he started when he was too old, but if we start with young boys and girls in primary schools, trust, the results would be a lot better.

 

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