APR head coach Rene Feller has defiantly distanced himself from recent claims of racist remarks attributed to him and emphasized, “I am not a racist”.
When APR failed miserably to defend the Kagame Cup title in Dar es Salaam, people came up with different excuses while critics picked on Feller as the main culprit.
There were even reports that he used racist remarks against striker Abbas Rassou when the Cameroonian-born player made a brief return to APR during the time of 2008 Kagame Cup tournament.
The striker once regarded as the best in the country during his two-year spell with the military side between 2005/6 and 2006/7, failed to catch the eye of Feller when the club managers brought him back to “help” the club in their regional title defence.
It’s claimed in some circles that the Dutchman referred to Abbass’s style of play as “playing like a nigga”, something the 65-year-old strongly denies.
In an exclusive interview with Times Sport on Monday, the veteran trainer said, “I am not a racist and I believe in multi-cultural societies, going back to my country (Holland).”
“I’d the last person to use the word niga,” Feller emphasized, before pointing out his native Holland as an example of multi-cultural societies.
In the strongest way possible, the former Eritrea national team coach reminded those he says want to “sabotage his work” at APR, “I am here for football. I want only the best for Africa, Rwanda inclusive. In any case, if I was a racist, I wouldn’t come (to work) in Africa.”
Prior to coming to APR, the Dutchman had worked in Eritrea for about two and half years where he was in charge of their national teams at all levels.
His Eritrea U-17 side did one over their Rwandan counterparts under Swedish coach Roger Palmegren in the quarter-finals of the regional youth championship held in Zanzibar in 2005.
Why Abbas didn’t play in Cecafa
Different reasons have been given for why Abbas, a talented player, who could one time, don Amavubi Stars’ colors (watch this space); failed to nail down a place on the team that played in Dar es Salaam.
But at last, from the horse’s own mouth, “(Abbas), in a bid to prove himself (to the coaches), he did too much and ended up failing completely.”
Feller explained that, the skilled forward, who cost APR a fortune when they praised him from one of the soccer academies in Cameroon, took on roles not meant for him on the field (like playing in wrong positions at the wrong time without the coach’s instruction).
“In football, you don’t play like in a chicken farm where you can afford to play anyhow. That’s what Abbas was doing during the few days we had him with us,” the straight-talking veteran trainer disclosed.
The striker had been brought (legally or otherwise, it remains a mystery) from his Moroccan club Olympique Khouribga to reinforce the APR’s striking line and when he failed to make Feller’s grade, he was put on the next plane back to Kigali.
So far so good but…
In his first season, the former Dutch indoor football star (during the 60s) has already won the Amahoro Cup while trying to make APR play a brand of football rival teams can only dream about.
“One of the pillars of football is to enjoy yourself while playing, that’s what I want my players to do
“In football, there is a difference between playing to win and playing not to lose. I personally prefer the former,” Feller stated.
And in his words, he said, “I’m happy with my bosses but only when they let me do my work, the way I feel is the best for the boys (players), the team and the fans.”
“Yes, as managers, they always want to advise you here and there, which is normal but when it comes to issues to do with team selection, those have to be left for us (coaches)
“APR have a fantastic background, fans’ clubs, they’ve been successful over the years but (to become ever a bigger club), they must have their own (good) training ground and club house,” Feller noted.