Rwanda has not achieved any considerable success in football, the most popular sport in the country. Since 2004, when the national football team qualified for the African Nations Cup, Rwanda has not come close to that kind of success despite investing a lot of resources in the sport.
Some people argue that the country should invest in sporting disciplines like cycling which has showed promising results in the last couple of years.
Rwanda is currently ranked 3rd in Africa in cycling. Sunday Magazine’s Sharon Kantengwa asked a cross section of people the feasibility of diverting the resources put in football to other sports like cycling or volleyball.
The best way is not to divert resources invested in a failed project but rather, invest in a different way. In theory, it is believed that elite sports people cannot be prepared in less than eight years and then from that bunch of elites, we prepare champions.
Another issue is how many young talents are detected and continuously developed. I ask this because sports pundits say that among 50 well developed elites, very few of those make it to the world stage.
We orient the debate in a different direction of how to develop potential future champions rather than discussing how to cut investments in soccer and invest in any other sports.
Adalbert Mfashimana, secretary-general of Rwanda Volleyball Federation
We have a problem of competitiveness and immaturity among players and the staff. Policymakers have a problem in implementation of what they have planned. I believe we have the talent to rival the best especially in the region and continent.
But does FERWAFA have a clear strategy of nurturing them to fruition? Policy making must always be followed by monitoring and evaluation, if not we are doing nothing.
If we are not ready to do regular monitoring and evaluation of good policies put in place, we better disband Amavubi and transfer the finances spent on the team and transfer that money to other productive sports.
Delphine Uwase, footbal fan
First of all, the Government set up a ministry in charge of sports and culture. There is no ministry in charge of football, meaning that the Ministry are responsible for all kinds of sports.
Although the national football team is not performing well, at club level, Rayon Sports is now in the quarter final of the Total Africa Champions’ League. That’s progress in football, it’s not just about the national team.
Secondly, we have been developing football through the Ministry of Education, and have many training centres in schools and private training centres.
As a ministry, we invest in all sports because we want all of them to perform well and if cycling is doing well, it’s because we are investing in it. We believe that we will get better in football over time.
Emmanuel Bugingo, Director of Sports, Ministry of Sports and Culture
We tend to want quick results or benefits and this pressurises those responsible. I don’t think we should abandon our football teams, because despite the (generally poor) performance there is a level that they have reached, plus football has a lot of fans both in and outside Rwanda.
Cycling and other sports are advancing but we shouldn’t ignore the fact that other kinds of sport have been around for so long. Besides, football as a sport, promotes a country; for example when we played with Côte d’Ivoire (last Sunday), the game was screened live on international TV stations.
Instead of eliminating national football teams, effort should be put in offering timely and standard training for the players.
Ruth Rigoga, sports journalist