The East and central Africa football governing body, Cecafa is assured of President Paul Kagame’s annual sponsorship package ahead of this year’s regional club championship in Sudan.
The body’s General Secretary Nicholas Musonye told Times Sport recently that though they are searching for other sponsors, they still rely on President Kagame’s $ 60.000 package in prize money.
“President Kagame has been a loyal sponsor for the championship since 2002 and there is no doubt that his contribution has raised the standards of football in the region,” Musonye acknowledged.
Before adding, “But we want to start searching for other sponsors so as to foot the clubs’ on and off the pitch requirements during the two week tournament.”
The championship dates will be set depending on how far the regional clubs triumph in this year’s African Champions League and Confederation Cup respectively.
“We have a number of regional clubs taking part in the continental club championships so the dates (for Cecafa/Kagame Cup) would be set depending on how they (regional clubs) fare in continental engagements,” Musonye noted.
Rwanda is being represented by APR in the more lucrative MTN Champions League and Rayon Sports in the Confederations Cup.
Other clubs expected to spice up the event include; Vital’O (Burundi), Simba SC (Tanzania), Tusker FC (Kenya), Al Tahrir (Eritrea), Miembeni SC (Zanzibar), Uganda Revenue Authority (Uganda), Al Hilal(Sudan) and Awassa Kenema of Ethiopia.
The Championship was renamed after Kagame six years ago in appreciation for his support to the development of football in the region through sponsoring the annual club championship.
Kagame became the first President to sponsor a big regional football event and was followed by Abeid Karume of Zanzibar who sponsors the Under-19 Challenge Cup.
The now lucrative tournament had been perennially on the death bed due to lack of money until President Kagame’s sponsorship amounting to US$60,000.
Before President Kagame came to power, both Rwanda’s national team (Amavubi Stars) and clubs used to be the underdogs of football in the region but the now a near-mention of clubs like APR is good enough to sending chilling fears among the more seasoned regional and continental teams.
It was not surprising when Rwanda’s Amavubi Stars qualified for the Nations’ Cup finals in Tunisia.
In the run-up to historic feat, the government of Rwanda had fully taken responsibility by sponsoring the Amavubi’s qualifying campaign in which the national team had training stints in Germany.
President Kagame’s involvement and love for the game has largely helped Rwanda remain rich and shinning in football.