For the first time in many years, the Rwanda national football team played a game without naturalised players in the 0-0 friendly against Morocco last week.
Not that the Rwanda Football Association (Ferwafa) had a choice but this was a decision taken by Government through the Ministry of Sports in collaboration with Ferwafa that naturalised players will not feature for the Amavubi again.
This policy was instituted following Rwanda’s disqualification from the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers after fielding a player- Dady Birori who had two different identities. He was also called Tady Etekiama Agiti.
Starved of experienced players, Amavubi coach Stephen Constantine did not whine but picked up the pieces and against all odds inspired the largely youthful national side which has an average age of 22 to an impressive performance in Morocco.
From his inspirational talks to players whose wages for playing three African nations cup qualifiers and a friendly had delayed for 3 months to giving a chance to young inexperienced players who at the age of 20-21 years have only represented Rwanda once or twice, Constantine is on the right track to altering stereotypes in Rwandan football.
The Englishman shocked many when he named a young inexperienced side including a call-up for Herve Rugwiro who had only featured for less than 30 minutes in the National Football League.
“We have a problem with central defenders. What will happen if ‘Kodo’ (Ismael Nshutiyamagara) or Emery (Bayisenge) gets injured? That is why we need Herve,” he said after the selection.
“The idea to pick players from two or three teams is not good. It does not matter where you come from. Everyone comes from somewhere and I think we should look at all the teams. You never know you might find a diamond in Amagaju or Musanze.”
Ernest Sugira, Bertrand Iradukunda, Hamdan Bariyanga, Justin Mico, Rachid Kalisa and Dany Usengimana made their debut for the Amavubi and, according to Constantine, giving them exposure is at the helm of his priorities.
It is this positive step that Constantine has taken that has set a firm foundation for the future of football in Rwanda, observers say.