NUR will always be my team – outgoing coach

National University of Rwanda (NUR) volleyball club, based in Huye District, Southern Province is probably the oldest club in the country.

National University of Rwanda (NUR) volleyball club, based in Huye District, Southern Province is probably the oldest club in the country.

Since its formation in 1963 it has always been a power house on the local scene, and recently clinched this year’s national volleyball league title, their ninth since 1995.

The nearest to them are APR VC with six titles in the same period, but the just concluded season in which the Varsity side were under Fidele Nyirimana as head trainer, cemented NUR’s place as Rwanda’s most successful club.

Former APR right attacker Nyirimana was born 35 years ago to Isaieh Kanyashokora and Eleta Mukarushema in Gisagara District (formerly Ndora), Southern Province. He is the last born in a family of eight.

Nyirimana, who is set to leave the club after leading them to the league title and is widely reported to have agreed to take up the coaching role at newly formed Rayon Sports VC, is married to Angel Uwituze and they have three children- one daughter and two sons. He is a happy family man, “I enjoy my family very much, they always come first no matter how busy I could be.”

Nyirimana is a product of Gisagara A and B Primary schools from where he headed to Espanya Nyanza for his Ordinary level (O’level) before switching to APAPE Gikondo for his Advanced level studies where he completed his high school studies in Accounting and Commerce.

He furthered his studies at the National University of Rwanda (NUR) and graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science.

The former Umubano Blue Tigers and Amasata player has always loved and played volleyball from his primary school days and never tried any other discipline sport “apart from village-street football like most of the other village kids,” he acknowledges.

Early days

In an exclusive interview with Saturday Sport  early on Wednesday, he said he always played a “crucial role” for his primary and secondary schools’ teams but never won anything with any of them.

“After I joined APAPE Gikondo for my advanced level studies, I featured in the national league for three different clubs; Amasata, APR and Umobano Blue Tigers.”

In 1997, Nyirimana featured for Amasata, joining APR the next season before switching to Umubano Blue Tigers for two seasons from 1999 until 2001 when he joined National university of Rwanda.

Before signing for NUR, Nyirimana had won only one valuable title, the then ‘Disparu Coup’ (in French) currently called ‘1994 Genocide against Tutsi memorial tournament’ with Blue Tigers in 2000.

Playing for NUR

Former NUR right attacker and receiver, Nyirimana joined the university team in 2001 and won the league, Carre d’As in the debut season in which they also finished first runners-up in Coupe du Rwanda.

That same year, former APAPE Gikondo captain was also part of NUR squad that travelled to China for the International University Sports Federation (FISU) Games where they finished 11th out of 16 teams.

As a player, Nyirimana won a whooping 14 trophies with NUR, including four league titles in 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2006.

As NUR player, he won the 5th edition of the African University Sports Federation (FASU) Games held in Kampala, Uganda in 2008. He was also part of the team that finished 8th at the African club champions league staged in Benin in 2003.

Coaching career

Although he officially retired in 2009 and concentrated on his coaching career, he had started coaching in 2006 at NUR when he was still a player. He was also appointed coach of Groupe Scolaire Officiel de Butare (GSOB) the same year.

As a coach, he has won two league titles in 2010 and the most recent just last week after NUR beat archrivals APR in three straight sets.

He also won different tournaments including Carre d’As, Coupe du Rwanda and Fight against Malaria campaign tournament among others.

“I enjoyed my career here (National University of Rwanda) as a player and a coach as well. I will always be a fan and I wish them well after I leave,” Nyirimana told Saturday Sport.

The 35-year -old, after 12-years at NUR, he is set to switch to newly-formed Rayon Sports volleyball club as the head coach and will be assisted by Jean de Dieu Bagirishya next season.

As he confirmed to this paper, “It is true, next season I will be coaching Rayon Sports.”

The ambitious Nyirimana wants to build a strong Rayon Sports team that will be competitive on local, regional and continental scene provided he receives what he referred as the “required financial backing” to buy quality players.

NUR volleyball club highlights

The volleyball team of the National University of Rwanda started a few months after establishment of the school in 1963, and it dominated the local scene until 1994 Genocide against Tutsi and immediately after, winning the league in 1995, 1996 and 1997.

Prof. Alexendre Ryambabaje, former Minister of Sports and currently president of Rwanda National Olympic Committee Robert Bayigamba, former PS in the ministry of Sports, Jean Pierre Karabaranga and Senator Charles Uyisenga are some of most notable former players.

“In 1971, NUR won the East African inter-universities competitions that were held in Kampala. At that time, the team was in a far better shape (than the current side),” Senator Uyisenga told Saturday Sport.

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