No plans to quit for Rwanda’s most successful handball player

Gicumbi overcame all sorts of hurdles to win this year’s national handball league title, their first since 2008 and their success can be summed up in a single man, Francois Xavier Ngarambe, the team captain.
Francois Xavier Ngarambe holding the 2012 Liberation Day tournament trophy. Saturday Sport/ Courtesy.
Francois Xavier Ngarambe holding the 2012 Liberation Day tournament trophy. Saturday Sport/ Courtesy.

Gicumbi overcame all sorts of hurdles to win this year’s national handball league title, their first since 2008 and their success can be summed up in a single man, Francois Xavier Ngarambe, the team captain.

Apart from Gicumbi (twice, Ngaramba, probably the most successful handball player in Rwanda, has also played for other big local clubs including Kigali Institute of Education (KIE), APR and Police.

The 35-year- old Ngarambe, who was instrumental in leading his home team to their second league title, was born on October 27, 1978 in Byumba (currently called Gicumbi), to Valerie Uzamukunda and Alphonse Ujeneza. He is the fourth born in a family of eight siblings (4 boys and 4 girls).

The former Kigali Institute of Education handball club player is not yet married but has a 9-year old son, Bonheur Ganza, who will be in form four next year.

Ngarambe went to Ecole Primaire Mwendo, attended Lycee Muhura for his ordinary level (O’level) and College Apedi Rubuki for his advanced level (A’level) from where he completed with a senior six leaving certificate in Biochemistry in 2002.

The hugely passionate handball player and coach, Ngarambe is a product of Kigali Institute of Education (KIE), where he studied for 4 years from 2003 and graduated with a Bachelors degree in Sports Science in 2007.

“Of all sports, I chose handball since I was in primary school. I grew up eager to play and learn more about the game and I am happy with my current status. I don’t doubt hard work and love of the game paid me off,” Ngarambe told Saturday Sport recently in an exclusive interview.

Early days

Ngarambe says he played for all his former schools’ handball teams from primary up to university and “always played a key role.” He won the national inter-schools’ handball championship with college Apedi Rubuki in 2000 and led KIE to several trophies including three league titles.

Playing career

“I started playing professionally in 2003 after joining KIE as a first year student and went on to help them claiming two consecutive league titles in 2004 and 2005,” he recalls.

After finishing his university studies in KIE in 2007, Ngarambe joined Gicumbi handball club in 2008 and played a big part for them to win their first league title on top of other competitions.

In 2009, he signed for the army side, APR handball club and led to their first ever league title. He also won Heroes’ Day tournament, Rwanda Liberation Day cup and International Labour Day tournament in the same year.

In 2010, he headed back to his former club, KIE where he acted as coach-player and guided the student side to another league title after a six-year drought. He also coached KIE women’s handball club to win Beach handball tournament that year.

For the next two years (2011 and 2012), Ngarambe featured as captain for Police handball club where he led them on two back to back league titles. He also helped them clinch Coupe du Rwanda, Rwanda Liberation and Heroes Day tournaments during his two-year spell.

With age catching up with him and a need for a new challenge, the father of one was persuaded by Gicumbi to return to his home-town club.

“It was a tough decision to leave Police and return to Gicumbi, but in the end it proved to be best decision as we went on to win the league,” he stated.

In a season when the champion was decided on the very last day, Ngaramba led from the front, scoring 11 goals in the 35-29 win over the defending champions Police.

Achievements

With no doubt, Ngarambe is the most successful player in Rwandan handball after winning eight league titles with four different teams.

Apart from winning the league titles, the former Ecole Primaire Mwendo pupil has travelled to different countries because of handball.

He says, “I am grateful to handball that I have travelled to Switzerland, Morocco, Congo Brazzaville, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya and Tanzania among others.”

Next plans

Although Ngarambe started coaching in 2004, he wants to take up coaching full time and possibly take it up to a professional level after he finally hangs his playing boots. He has not set a retirement date though.

“I love this game and I have no plan to quit it any time soon, but when I retire from playing I will immediately go into full time coaching,” explained the former APR player.

The Gicumbi handball club captain took charge of his first international competition when he coached the national Under-20 women’s team that finished sixth at the 19th edition of the African Junior championship staged in Oyo, Congo Brazzaville this year.

Subscribe to The New Times E-Paper


You want to chat directly with us? Send us a message on WhatsApp at +250 788 310 999    

 

Follow The New Times on Google News