Meet Twagizimana, Police FC's longest serving player

Football is by far the most popular sport in Rwanda. The favorite sport for many, football has also been around for so many years. Local football association (Ferwafa) was founded in 1972, was affiliated to CAF in 1976 and to FIFA in 1978.
Fabrice Twagizimana, seen here in action against Rayon Sports in the semi-final of the Ombudsman Cup last December. 
(T. Kisambira)
Fabrice Twagizimana, seen here in action against Rayon Sports in the semi-final of the Ombudsman Cup last December. (T. Kisambira)

Football is by far the most popular sport in Rwanda. The favorite sport for many, football has also been around for so many years. Local football association (Ferwafa) was founded in 1972, was affiliated to CAF in 1976 and to FIFA in 1978.

Saturday Sport has come to realize that local football develops iconic stars under some sort of a generation-based system and we will explain by examples.

The 2003/2004 generation included immortals such as Jimmy Gatete, Olivier Karekezi, Hamadi Ndikumana and Jimmy Mulisa among others; while the 2007 generation produced the likes of Haruna Niyonzina, Jean Baptiste Mugiraneza, Jean Claude Iranzi and Jean Luc Ndayishimiye and so on….

Currently we are celebrating another emerging generation that you can call the 2011 class that includes youngsters like Emery Bayisenge, Micheal Rusheshangoga, Robert Ndatimana, Faustin Usengimana and so many others.

However, there are players you won’t find in any of the above mentioned generations. Police FC vice-captain, Fabrice Twagizimana is one of those unsung heroes you won’t be able to classify in any of the above classes.

The 26-year old Twagizimana is currently the longest serving player at Police FC, since joining the law enforcers’ side in 2008 as a 20-year old rookie.

Who is Twagizimana?

Born on October 8, 1988 in Masoro sector, Rulindo District of Northern Province, Twagizimana is the third-born from a family of four children, three boys and one girl.

His father (Patrice Twagizimana) was killed during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi and since then he and siblings were single-handedly raised by their mother Rosette Mukamutana. The family still resides in Masoro.

Rwanda international central defender Twagizimana is married to his former primary school classmate Antoinette Uwamahoro and the couple has been blessed with a daughter Kloe Keza, who now one and half years old.

He attended Masoro primary school before switching to Muhanga district-based ITEKA secondary school for his high school studies, pursuing Automobile Mechanics in A’level.

The soft spoken full-back, nicknamed ‘Ndikukazi’, (literarily meaning at work due to his commitment and determination when on the field of play), opted not to enroll for university in order to fend for his family as well as concentrate on developing his football career.

“Life is always about making choices; I prioritized my family’s welfare and my source of income (football) over joining university. Studying is an endless journey, I’m very sure I will resume but I’m not sure exactly when,” Twagizimana told Saturday Sport.

He also went ahead to say, “I am from a humble background and the whole family was looking up to me for a living, so I could not live with seeing my family suffering.” he said

Apart from football being his career choice and a source of livelihood, Twagizimana is also a soccer fan and supports FC Barcelona globally and former Spain international defender Carlos Puyol was his source of motivation due to their similar style of play.

Early days

Twagizimana’s life has always been about football and the passion is rooted in the family ancestry. He revealed to this newspaper that his father and grand-father were also football players.

However, hard as he could dream, he never thought he could rise from street football level to earning a living out of it.

“Just like most village boys, I grew up playing street football in my neighborhood and featuring for my primary school team in youth competitions but I never imagined turning into Twagizimana I’m today. Only passion and dedication kept me going,” he narrates.

At the age of 16, Twagizimana joined Rayon Sports junior team in early 2006 but only stayed for one month and was ‘hijacked’ by the then newly formed AS Muhanga for a paltry Rwf25,000 in transfer fee plus monthly allowances on top of the club agreeing to pay his school fees as part of the deal.

Coach Jean Paul Kalisa was the man behind Twagizimana’s move from Rayon Sports’ junior team to AS Muhanga. By then Kalisa coached Rayon Sports youth side and when he parted ways with the Blues he scooped a number of talents with him to AS Muhanga.

The hard-tackling Twagizimana played in the then second division side AS Muhanga for nearly two seasons, including his final campaign in South Province when he led the Muhanga district-sponsored side to topflight league promotion in 2007/2008 season.

Life-changing transfer to Police FC

Towards the end of 2008, the then 20-year old switched from AS Muhanga to Police FC and the central defender has described the move as a ‘Life-Changing Transfer’ and he further admitted it was not easy for him to adapt and break through with many foreigners around in late 2000s.

“Being a regular in Police FC was not an easy struggle, I had to work very hard to prevail and I was lucky to make it two years later,” he admits.

Since his arrival at the law enforcers’ side in 2008, he has only been able to help the club win one trophy—the Ombudsman Cup last December, beating AS Kigali in the final.

However, he has helped Police FC to get rid of the small team tag into a regular top four contender and genuine title contenders in the league and other local competitions.

He has also been able to help the side finish first runners-up in the league and Peace Cup on a couple of occasions and third place in the 2014 Cecafa Kagame Cup.

Currently, Police FC are third on the league table with 32 points from 19 matches, having won 8, drawn 8 and lost 3 matches respectively and trail leaders APR by eight points—with seven rounds of matches remaining.

His current contract with Police FC ends in 2017/2018 season but he wants to extend it as long as he is still wanted by the club.

National team duty

Twagizimana played in the U-20 national team for one year (2007) and three years later, he received his maiden cap in the senior national senior team, Amavubi Stars under Ghanaian coach Sellas Tetteh.

Since joining the Amavubi Stars, Twagizimana has featured in different competitions such as Cecafa Senior Challenge, AFCON and Fifa World Cup qualifiers and international friendly matches.

His match for Amavubi was last year against Libya in the first-leg match of the AFCON 2015 first round qualifiers.

Off-pitch achievements

The former AS Muhanga defender says he is thankful to the management of Police FC, a team that provided him everything that made him make life progress from a 20-year rookie into a 26-year old family man he is today.

He says, “During the seven years with Police FC, I have been able to sustain my struggling family, built a house at home (Masoro), bought a car, got married and beside am living a happy life.”

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