It’s not all as rosy at APR Fc as many at the club would wish the outside world to believe, Times Sport has established. Not everything that shines is gold, so goes the saying.
The military side has won a record nine league title, two Cecafa Club championships as well everything there is to be won on the local scene.
This has, without any doubt put them up there as Rwanda’s most successful football club, however, such accomplishment and dominancy is surely going to be up for a litmus test, starting this season.
And if word coming out of some of the players sacked at the end of last season and those still at the club, is anything to take into account, APR fans may not see the same success again as it has been in the last decade or so.
Among the players concerned about the future of the club is Aime Ndizeye Ndanda whose contract ran out at the end of the last campaign and it wasn’t renewed.
After spending the previous seven years at the club, the goalkeeper still wants to play for APR but certain club officials don’t see it in the same breadth as he, so he believes an immediate intervention by the club patron General James Kabarebe could stop the club going the filthy route.
The Burundian international short-stopper has strongly come out to accuse certain individuals of forcing him out of the club he says he loves with his heart.
“I’ve been at APR for the last seven years and coming at the end of my last contract, it never crossed my mind that would leave this club.
“I couldn’t just imagine life at another club. APR is the club I’ve played for, for so long and it had become part of me.
I love the club, I am a fan like any other,” Ndanda said.
Before adding that, “However, some people seemed determined to get rid of me so that they bring in another goalkeeper they wanted.”
“To be honest, I never thought I’d leave APR the way some people within the club leadership decided.
“Leaving APR wouldn’t be an issue in itself, but leaving the way I am being forced to, leaves me very disappointed.
I thought I’d end my career at the club and possibly become part of its coaching staff at one time.
“I am not a greedy player’
Seemingly irritated with reports that he left APR because the club couldn’t meet the amount of money he was demanding before signing a new contract, Ndanda, said, “I can never leave APR because of money. Let that go on record.”
“For all the years I’ve been at APR, never at any given time have I fell out with the club officials because of money. To me, money isn’t everything.
I have always put club interests before mine and it will always remain like that.
“Anyone at the club can testify (in my favor) that I’m not like these other players who come at the club, get money and run away or stay at the club for one week, then go back to Burundi,” he noted.
Never asked for Frw10M
Ndanda has been probably the best short-stopper in the country over the years but even such attributes can’t make him put the club at ransom, he told this reporter.
He said, “It’s a lie to say that I demanded for Frw10 as sign-on fee.
Instead, it was the secretary (APR Secretary General Maj Alex Sabiti) who asked me to come up with my demand, something I found hard due to the fact, the last time signed a new contract (2005), I wasn’t asked to.
“When they insisted, I said, fine, give me $15.000 (about Frw eight millions), and they said, no, we shall give you seven millions, I said ok, after all with APR, I can even play for far less than that.
“But what surprised me was when the secretary came back to and said that Afande James (Kabarebe) had refused to endorse the seven million, instead, he was offering four millions.
“Because of what happened to me when I signed the last contract, I insisted that with all that I had done for the club, how can I get less money than a new keeper (Ramadhan Nkunzingoma) who isn’t even better than me.
Ramadhan is reported to have signed for $10.000 (about Frw5.4M).
Once beaten twice shy
In 2005, Ndanda agreed with Vincent Nzamwita who was by then the club SG that he was would be paid Frw five millions only to find on his account six millions.
“I wondered where the extra one million was meant for, but I decided to let it pass. And when he (Maj. Sabiti) kept changing goalposts every after a few hours, I became suspicious that maybe he also wants to do what Vincent did.
“I never refused to take the money they were offering because APR has made me what I am, besides, I turned down opportunities to join other big clubs (Tanzania’s Yanga Africans and St. George of Ethiopia) just to stay at APR.
“But the really bombshell dropped on Iddi Day when I returned from prayers only to find someone at my home with a letter confirming that I had been released.
“And being the type person I am, I took it on the chin and didn’t bother calling anyone (at the club).
Play for free if it necessitates
To drive his point home as far his love for APR is concerned, the 26-year-old said, he could even play for nothing if is asked to do so by the club patron Gen. Kabarebe.
“Afande James never fails to fulfill his promise. If he asked me to play and promises to pay me at the end of the season, I would do it without any second thought.
“True, I got the release letter but I haven’t lost hope of playing for APR again that’s why I can not sign for any other club before I get confirmation from him (Kabarebe). I really need to chance to talk to him.
“Maybe if I talked to him about how the people managing the team are going about their business, I’d join another club a contented man.
“I was ready to sign another contract even if it required me being third choice, behind Ramathan and Ndoli (Claude) but I wasn’t given a chance.
Club chairman gives his view
“Ndanda refused to take the money we were offering him, he asked for $15.000 and we had no choice but to let him go,” Brig. Gen. Alex Kagame told this reporter in a lengthy telephone conversation about the issue of the long-serving ‘keeper.
Kagame also noted that all the players whose contracts had expired were released in order to stabilize the club’s accounts books.
“It was to do with the club trying to cut down on the costs of having a big squad of big earners. So we told him (Ndanda) to accept the four millions because we didn’t have so much to spend, he refused.
Gen Kabarebe should intervene .
In addition to Ndanda’s revelations, other club insider sources have told Times Sport that all isn’t rosy at APR and the sooner Afande Kabarebe intervened, the better or else, the club becomes a crumpling empire.
“All is not well within the team.
The new players are getting disgruntled less than three months of joining.
“The manager and the secretary have run the club into trouble and if they are not stopped sooner rather than later, APR will never be the same again.
“There is so much dirty work being done within the team. The coaching staff is at logger heads and the new players are not happy with the way they are being treated by the coach.
“Everything seems to be in a total mess right now and the sooner Kaberebe intervened the better, the source concluded.