In Rwanda, football is playing an important role in nation-building and is by far the most appreciated sport.
Some might even say that in Rwanda, football comes straight after religion in people’s hearts. However, up to now, local football is yet to live up to the expectations of its most loyal fans.
For years, many have been complaining about the lack of resources, the shortage of appropriate infrastructures, the absence of an inspiring vision and obvious mismanagement issues affecting our football.
The fact that Ferwafa decided to sell the broadcasting rights of the National Football League is a positive and necessary development. It is a step toward more professionalism, exposure and income that could take Rwandan football to the next level.
It is also worth mentioning that the new management of Ferwafa has also received tremendous support from Fifa, which has strongly advised the federation to put on sale the broadcasting rights.
It is an ineluctable and crucial evolution that will considerably improve Rwanda’s football. Each and every person who cares about the development of this beloved sport should acknowledge it.
It is normal that Ferwafa, which needs money to develop our football, follows the path taken earlier by most football federations around the world. Indeed, you cannot find a strong football league in a country where no one pays for broadcasting rights.
Airing football games is not free and should never be. It is a product which attracts a wide audience, numerous sponsors and advertisers.
That is the reason why TV channels and Pay-TV networks fight to get these rights; because they know how profitable such an investment can be.
TV and Radio is about content, and it is time that, we, local media managers, understand that we have to pay for content, not steal it or play it without authorisation.
Once again, football is a product, and the few broadcasters which used to show/air local games, were making money out of it by selling airtime. Meanwhile, Ferwafa was not getting any penny from these broadcasts.
We cannot blame Ferwafa for putting an end to such an unfair situation.
On September 11, 2014, Ferwafa invited all the directors and managers of broadcast media houses for a consultative meeting to discuss the sale of the national football league broadcasting rights.
Only Radio10/TV10, YegoTV and LemigoTV were represented by their respective managers. The other media houses only sent journalists while Ferwafa was expecting decision makers. The bid was officially launched and media houses called on to send their proposals.
YegoTV, AzamTV and Radio10/TV10 were the only ones who formally expressed their interest for these rights. There were no guidelines because this process was pretty new, and time was not on their side since the 2014/2015 season was about to commence.
Consequently, anyone could come up with a financial and technical offer. So did we. Others did not take this statement seriously. We would go on to submit four different proposals before reaching an agreement with Ferwafa.
We were proud and glad to compete for these rights because we believe that this deal would strongly benefit our local football and contribute to its development.
Regarding our technical capability, a good journalist could have easily found out that an OB Van is not absolutely necessary to broadcast live games on TV.
Besides, as many know, on August 30, we broadcast live the PGGSS 2014 grand finale that took place at the Amahoro National Stadium on TV10, and no OB Van was involved. None.
Broadcast technologies have tremendously evolved and heavily equipped vans are no longer required to do live coverage. We are more than ready to broadcast matches played in Kigali and our technical team will be provided intensive training to take on the challenge.
Last but not least, TV10 is accessible to 95 per cent of the country and, in terms of radio coverage, starting from Monday, all the districts across Rwanda will be covered during the broadcasting of the games.
As I stated earlier, football is an attractive product, and we believe that the national league is about to dramatically improve. The environment is positive, the political will is stronger than ever, and Fifa is ready to increase its support.
We are pretty sure that we will manage to make this deal profitable, not thanks to SuperSport (which is not interested so far), but through advertisement, revenue sharing and many other opportunities.
It is all about being smart and innovative. Rwanda’s football is about to move to the next level and we, at Radio10/TV10, want and are proud to be part of this story. We are happy to contribute to the advancement, visibility and profitability of domestic football.
We invite all the other media houses to join the movement and work together to make it happen, because our football deserves it.
The writer is the Managing Director, Radio10/TV10.