Meet Bayisenge, APR FC's defensive maestro

AT A tender age of 20, Emery Bayisenge is already regarded as one of Rwanda's finest football players, thanks to his skillful play in the heart of APR FC and Amavubi teams.
Emery Bayisenge, despite his young age, is a key member for APR and Amavubi. (Timothy Kisambira)
Emery Bayisenge, despite his young age, is a key member for APR and Amavubi. (Timothy Kisambira)

AT A tender age of  20, Emery Bayisenge is already regarded as one of Rwanda’s finest football players, thanks to his skillful play in the heart of APR FC and Amavubi teams.

The talented Bayisenge has followed his football passion since childhood climaxing in 2010 when he captained the U-17 national team to fourth place in the U-20 Cecafa Cup in Eritrea.

In 2011, he also captained the same team to qualify for the Fifa U-17 World Cup in Mexico after reaching the final of the Africa U-17 Youth Championships held in Kigali.

Rwanda lost 2-1 to Burkina Faso and the team; coach Frenchman Richard Tardy didn’t manage to go past the group stages in Mexico.

Last season, Bayisenge was an ace in the APR defence as the army side captured their record-extending 14th national league title and eighth Peace Cup title, which is also a record.

Early days

One of Bayisenge’s earlier sources of inspiration was his elder brother Eric Ndahayo, who currently features for league side AS Kigali.

“I owe a lot to my brother (Ndahayo); he played a big role in my passion for football. He always motivated and encouraged me to put everything into the game, and fortunately it worked,” Bayisenge says.

He adds, “Back in primary school, we used to train at Kamena football academy (Huye) under coach Katibito before our family moved to Rubavu and I joined Vigoureux Mungo’s football academy.”

The soft spoken Bayisenge was selected among the first intake of 25 youngsters to join the Ferwafa academy in early 2008 and he has grown to become an asset for both club and country.

School career

After moving to APE Rugunga in 2008, Bayisenge helped the school football team to win four consecutive national inter-schools’ titles from 2010 to 2014.

He also featured for the school team twice in the East Africa post primary Games in 2011 and 2012 but lost in semi-finals on both occasions.

Bayisenge says he played his first official match when he was in grade five at Adventist primary school in Huye District during the inter-primary school competitions.

League career

So far, the center-back has featured for two national football league clubs namely; Isonga FC (2011/2012) and APR FC from September 2012 to date.

In his inaugural season in the topflight division, he helped youthful Isonga to finish in the sixth place in the 14-team league table standing. In that season Isonga had some big scalps among them Rayon Sports (3-1), AS Kigali (3-2) and APR (2-1).

In the summer of 2012, eight players from Isonga FC including Bayisenge were signed by APR and as a result, Isonga was weakened and later relegated to the lower division league at the end of 2012/2013 season.

Bayisenge with his amazing skills in the heart of the defense, helped APR to finish in second place in the league behind champions Rayon Sports, reached the semi-finals of the Peace Cup and also the final of Cecafa Kagame Cup in Darfur, Sudan but lost 3-1 to Vital’O of Burundi.

Bayisenge, who is also known for his skill in taking fabulous free-kicks, still has one year left on his contract with APR and says he would be happy to sign an extension when the right time comes.

Youth career

The former APE Rugunga student, Bayisenge has played at all levels for the national teams since 2009. In 2010, he captained the U-17 side to reach the semi-finals of the U-20 Cecafa Championships in Asmara, Eritrea.

In 2011, he also captained the same team to qualify for the Fifa U-17 Fifa World Cup held in Mexico after the team reached the final of the Africa U-17 Youth Championships in Kigali. Rwanda lost 2-1 to Burkina Faso in the final.

After Mexico, Bayisenge was promoted to captain the U-20 national team for which he played for two years until 2013.

Senior career

Young but with a mature mentality and leader on the pitch, Bayisenge received his first cap in the senior Amavubi team in August 2011 and his first international match was the Afcon 2012 qualifiers group stage clash against Ivory Coast at Amahoro stadium on September 2, which ended 5-0 in favour of the visitors.

Since then, Bayisenge, who turns 20 next month, has never missed a call-up to the Amavubi team, playing in various competitions including; Cecafa Senior Challenge Championships, Africa Cup of Nations and Fifa World Cup qualifiers as well as international friendlies.

Professional dream

Bayisenge has already had two professional trials in Europe, one in Toulouse (France) and another one in S.V Zulte Waregem (Belgium) but never got a chance to sign for any of them, but he still hopes one day, an opportunity will come.

Piece of advice

 Bayisenge thanks his parents for not discoursing him from doing what he loved to do—playing football, but instead showed full support throughout his career up today.

And he also advises the upcoming players to always follow their instinct, work hard, be disciplined, never to give up when things are not going well for then, be determined and think big.

Who is Bayisenge?

BORN ON November 2, 1994 in Huye District, Southern Province to Emmanuel Rwenyaguza and Marceline Bakunzi, Bayisenge is the fourth-born from a family of five children—four boys and one girl.

The former U-17 Amavubi captain is in a relationship with his girlfriend Kelia Umugwaneza, with whom he has been together for a year.

He attended Adventist primary school in Huye district, went to Rubavu-based Nazareth Secondry School for senior one and two, before switching to Nyarugenge-based APE Rugunga from senior three up to senior six where he graduated in 2013 with a certificate in History-Economics-Geography (HEG).

Bayisenge considers former APR and Rwanda’s international Mbuyu Twite as his source of motivation while on international scene he looks up to Arsenal and France international full-back Laurent Koscielny. He is also a fan of Premier League side Arsenal and France in international football.

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