THE other Sunday I made a rallying cry to stop mercenaries in our game in Rwanda, later that day I was watching Man City and Man U battle it out, when I was approached by a reader “If you think we have mercenaries in our game now, you should have seen Rwanda before, most players died or ran away after ‘94 and our system had broken down for 4 years.”
He explained that things have improved significantly and things couldn’t change overnight. “Look at France, all players from foreign countries, that is life, when you live somewhere for a while, you can play for them.”
I remember Rwanda vs. Mauritania at the Regional stadium, a little fat Brazilian was playing for them, I didn’t ask what his Mauritanian roots were, or whether his grandfather crossed to Rio de Janeiro in a canoe.
In Rwanda, we have instituted a limit of foreign players in our league for next season, but this is contrary to East African Community law.
This law states that any citizen can ply his trade anywhere in the region and not face discrimination.
So it looks like that ruling might not work, the same happened in England, the EU law stated that all workers were equal but the FA rules limited 3 foreigners per game; eventually the EU won and Arsenal can field a team of foreigners.
Atraco won the Kagame Cup in Sudan, but it was a bittersweet moment, apart from two players, all the team was foreign. Now we have to remember that Atraco is firstly a business, and nobody has the right to tell the chairman what to do, he can sign any player he wants, as can any team, I just wish there were more Rwandans in his team.
You find the same situation in Rwanda as in England, the shortage of good Rwandan players, means they come at a premium and cost more than Ugandan players.
The most wanted player in this close season was Djabir Mutarambirwa, but he must have cost a fortune compared to Johnson Bagoole.
Clubs will always live season to season, the fans do not have the patience for long-term strategy, even Wenger has to conduct his youth policy out of sight because the fans want instant signings.
There has to be a local youth system for clubs to put something back into the community, clubs need to be embedded in their fan base and can become vehicles for social change.
If we can produce a constant supply of good players, then we eliminate the need for foreign players to come in.
The modern world requires free moment of goods and labour, therefore there are no legal means to stop foreign players; we can only reduce the need.
I hope foreign players continue to succeed in Rwanda, it just shouldn’t be at the expense of good local player. Likewise, I would like to see more Rwandan players playing regionally and internationally.
True sport or football has no nationality, but social factors and reality cannot be ignored; we need to give our players a chance to compete.