Celebrated left–attacker Christopher Mukunzi announced his retirement from professional volleyball aged 35. The veteran bid farewell to the sport he played for 18 years after helping Kepler to a fourth-place finish in the just-concluded CAVB Zone V Club Championship. ALSO READ: Mukunzi on his healing after the Genocide – and how volleyball helped “I want to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to the entire Rwanda Volleyball Federation for the unwavering support and trust you have placed in me throughout my tenure as the captain. Serving in this role has been the highest honor of my career, and I am grateful for the opportunities it has provided for personal and collective growth,” Mukunzi said on Monday, on January 29. ALSO READ: 23 years later, volleyball star is yet to find father’s remains Mukunzi thanked his teammates, coaches and the entire support staff at Kepler for playing an important role on his journey. “The camaraderie we shared, the challenges we overcame, and the victories we celebrated will forever hold a special place in my heart. It has been an absolute privilege to lead such a talented and dedicated group of individuals, and I am immensely proud of what we have achieved together”. Memories Mukunzi, who captained Kepler during the CAVB Zone V Club Championship, said he was “filled with gratitude for the friendships forged, the lessons learned, and the indelible memories created on and off the court.” He thanked the federation, the coaching staff, and teammates for their support throughout his journey as a player both on club and country level. “ I am truly thankful,” he said. “Thank you once again for the honor of representing Rwanda as the national team captain, it has been the highlight of my career, and I am proud to have been part of the Volleyball family, and I apologise for everything I did wrong as a human being”. Mukunzi previously featured for several local clubs like Gisagara Volleyball Club, Kigali Volleyball Club (KVC) before going pro in 2011 when he was signed by Libyan side Tarsana Club. He also played for Algeria’s Blida Club, Qatari side Al Arabi Sports Club, El Fanar Ain-Azel Club, also of Algeria, and Turkey’s Payas Belediye Sport Club, as well as Bulgarian outfit VC Marek Union-Ivkoni. Back to Rwanda After the expiry of his contract with VC Marek Union-Ivkoni, which the club refused to extend, Mukunzi moved back to Rwanda to join Gisagara in October 2017, and immediately helped them to their second consecutive league title and Carre d’As trophy. In 2019, he joined Rwanda Energy Group (REG) and inspired them to the final of the post-season Play-offs where they will face defending champions Gisagara later this month. Mukunzi earned his first cap in the national Under-23 volleyball team in 2010 when the side participated in the 2010 Africa U23 championships in Libya. He captained the youthful Rwandan side to fourth position as Tunisia won the tournament. In 2011, he was called to the senior team and featured in the FIVB/Africa Zone V championships hosted at Amahoro Stadium in Kigali that Rwanda won. The regional triumph earned Rwanda a ticket to the 2011 All-Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique, where they also finished fourth, behind champions Cameroon, Algeria and Kenya. He was named the national team captain by head coach Paul Bitok in 2011. In 2013, he was part of the team that finished second at the FIVB/Africa Zone V championships in Kigali to reach the final round of FIVB World Championships qualifiers held in Cameroon. Rwanda finished third out of five countries, behind hosts Cameroon and Algeria. The soft spoken player was again part of Paul Bitok’s final squad that competed at the 2015 All-Africa Games in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. There, Rwanda finished fourth.