Pick a leaf from sterling disabled athletes

Editor,I wish to respond to the opinion piece, “Reaction to the article, “What does the future hold for Muvunyi?” (Sunday Times, August 11).
Rwanda’s IPC World Athletics Champion  Hermas Cliff Muvunyi (L) during a past competition. Net photo
Rwanda’s IPC World Athletics Champion Hermas Cliff Muvunyi (L) during a past competition. Net photo

Editor,

I wish to respond to the opinion piece, “Reaction to the article, “What does the future hold for Muvunyi?” (Sunday Times, August 11).

I would like to thank The New Times for raising this issue. It’s true that it’s a shame that Muvunyi got so little consideration from the authorities and the public in general.

However, some of the points raised bother me a bit. The first point is earning money from sports as a career. Not all sports give you the opportunity to get a salary, especially in most athletics sports. It’s even worse in sports for people living with disabilities.

To quote Irene Nayebare, the author of the said article, “(Ugandan President Yoweri) Museveni also directed the Ministry of Education and Sports to ensure that Ugandan sports men and women, who win medals at the international level, get financial support from government and also get job placements with government agencies, especially the Army, Police, Prisons, Uganda Wildlife Authority as well as Intelligence Services.”

Well, Rwandan athletes should be supported, but not that way. How can you explain that someone is working for the police, army or any government agency simply because they won a piece of metal in sport? How can you explain that someone takes home taxpayers’ money every month for the same reason?

This is favouritism at its worst. You send a message that being good in sport opens you the doors for a free job and cash without necessarily having the required skills.

People should stick to what they are good at and if athletes still want to have earnings during their careers, then I think the best thing to do is to set up special sports scholarships for Rwandan athletes, particulary for those who don’t have the means for a university degree.

This will enable them to acquire skills honourably while still continuing their passion – sport. At the end of the day, they can work normally like anyone while remaining an elite athlete. Second point is the issue of sports values.

I quote the author again: “In this day and age, you tell a common man or young kid that you’re a world champion yet you are both taking the same public taxi (Twegerane), how will they get motivated to do the same sport which makes you the world champion yet you have nothing to show for it?”

Here I think that you clearly point out the reason why there are so little people involved in sport in Rwanda – money and fame. Again you are sending a wrong message about what values sport stands for. Sport should be about self-transcendence, self-respect, fair play, respecting the game rules, solidarity, team spirit, taste for effort ... and not some low values like greed and vanity.

The best thing the government and our society can do is to spread those values through Hermas Cliff Muvunyi’s victories. Take him to schools to sensitise children about having a healthy lifestyle, to hospitals and show that being handicapped doesn’t make you less a human being and that success comes by a complete dedication to what you do...

In short, make them a model for society.

Jean, Brussels Belgium

 

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