He had a successful 2013 season in which he led the National University of Rwanda volleyball club to the men’s league title. In the same season he was named the Most Valuable Player. But despite this achievement, Olivier Ntagengwa is yet to live his dream. His dream is to play in professional ranks sooner than later.
Currently, the 22-year old is a fourth-year student at the Huye district-based University of Rwanda- College of Arts and Social Sciences (former NUR) pursuing a Bachelors degree in Biotechnology.
When asked how he balances studying and playing for both club and the national team, he says, “Of course what comes first is studying and I go to play when I have some free time. Nonetheless, playing actively doesn’t stop me from concentrating on my studies.”
While growing up, volleyball was never in Ntagengwa’s plans. Instead, he used to play football until when he was at Groupe Scolaire Officiel de Butare—but even here he played volleyball just for fun in the beginning.
“Probably I would never have played volleyball if I had not met the likes of Guillaume Irakarama and Bonny Mutabazi and (current Rayon Sports VC head coach) Fidele Nyirimana at GSOB, who encouraged me to take the sport seriously,” he acknowledges.
Since deciding to take up the sport permanently in 2007, the rest is history—he has gone on to become one of the finest players in the Rwandan league and a key member of the national team.
As a beginner, Ntagengwa recalls spending the whole of 2007 learning the basics under the guidance of former GSOB and NUR head coach (Fidele) Nyirimana, who joined newly formed Rayon Sports this year.
In 2008 Ntagengwa joined league side GSOB VC but in his own admission, the first season was tough. However, that didn’t deter him but instead forced him to work even harder, which paid off dividends a year later.
2009, a break-through year
In 2009 he was named the team captain (GSOB) and the same year led his school to the national inter-schools’ championship and FEASSA titles. His team also finished in fourth position in the national league.
In the league, GSOB finished behind champions APR, first runners-up NUR and second runners-up Kigali volleyball club (KVC).
After finishing his secondary school in 2009, he signed for league side INATEK and featured for the Ngoma district-based side for one season, helping them finish fourth in the league.
He enrolled at UR- College of Arts and Social Sciences (formerly National University of Rwanda , NUR) in September 2010, and a few months later he joined the varsity team (NUR VC) and helped the then new club finish second behind champions APR in the season of 2011.
In 2011, he helped NUR to win the inaugural Father Emmanuel Kayumba memorial tournament and in the same year, he paired with Eugene Tuyishime to finish third at the national beach volleyball tournament held in Rubavu district.
In 2012 still playing for NUR, they again finished the national league in the second place behind APR again but won the national anti-malaria volleyball tournament.
2013, a year he shone
“So far, 2013 is the most successful of my career, I achieved a lot throughout the year. First, it is the year that I made it to the final 12-player Men’s senior national team since earning my first call-up in 2011” he said in an interview with Saturday Sport.
In May 2013, Ntagengwa together with Thierry Mugabo, represented the country in the African U23 beach volleyball tournament held in Mombassa, Kenya.
They pair beat Zimbabwean duo in two sets (2-0) in the final and earned qualification to the World Championships which were held in Poland in June last year. On their way to the finals they had beaten Uganda, Kenya and Egypt.
Rwanda, Egypt and Zimbabwe are the three African teams that represented the continent at world meet. Rwanda finished in the 17th position out of 32 teams after managing just one win against Egyptians.
Ntagengwa was also the driving force for 2013 champions NUR VC and he was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the season.
He also was part of Kigali volleyball club (KVC) that traveled to Kampala for KCV (Kampala volleyball club) tournament and helped them to win the tournament. Ntagengwa was named the best blocker and tournament MVP.
How do friends describe him?
“Ntagengwa is humble, talks less, is hard-working, God-fearing and courageous. He always wants to live in harmony with friends and never misuses his star status,” Angel Umutoni, his classmate at NUR told this paper.
What his coach says about him
Former GSOB and NUR coach, Fidele Nyirimana said, “Ntagengwa is the player who taught me what evolution is, when I first met him in 2007 at GSOB he was nothing of a volleyball player but he worked very hard in the last six years to become a top-class player he is today.”
The pair will again work together at Rayon Sports in the forthcoming new season after Ntagengwa crossed from NUR two weeks ago.
Desire for Pro-career
“Turning into a professional player would improve my level a great deal, which means I would make a better contribution to the national team,” he stated.
The right attacker, who turns 23 years on August 8, was born to Simeon Nsamvurumpatse and Lydia Uwimana in Ruhango District. He is the fifth-born in a Christian family of seven children (four boys and three girls). Both his parents are still alive.
The light-skinned Ntagengwa attended Nyarurama Adventist primary school before joining Kinazi secondary school for Ordinary level (both based in Ruhango) and later switched to Groupe Scolaire Officiel de Butare (GSOB) for his Advanced level studies in Physics-Chemistry-Biology (PCB) in 2009.