Designing distinctive homegrown solutions and scaling up sport activities at schools dominated discussions when Parliament reopened for business, on Monday, after recess.
A draft legislation governing the organisation and promotion of physical activities, sports and leisure was tabled to replace the current one.
Sport and Culture minister Julienne Uwacu told legislators that amendments were timely following several changes that had transpired and sought to make the sector more investment-driven.
“Reasons behind changes to the current law revolve around the fact that the law relating to sports and leisure, passed February 18, 1987, is out dated,” Uwacu said.
The minister added that the Bill was meant to encourage investments in the sector, an element that seemed to have been ignored despite its potential.
“There will be more focus on children in schools, and in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, we can make sports and related activities a major source of income and probably attract more investors in the sector that has been surviving on National Budget Allocations,” she said.
MPs questioned the relevance of the Bill in the promotion of traditional Rwandan sporting activities such as high jump, wrestling, javelin, among others, unlike other activities that are funded but hardly win medals for the country at international events.
“I want to specifically point to our traditional sporting activities that can even take our country higher in international competitions. There is a need to develop centres of excellence where our children can develop their talents and be able to represent Rwanda in various competitions,” said MP Eugene Barikana.
Barikana’s views were echoed by MP Theobald Mporanyi, who said: “It would help young people develop talents that can earn them good money in the future. The rest of sporting activities are equally good but harmonisation and special focus should be considered.”
In response, Uwacu said the ministry has just concluded a study on how to promote traditional sports, a study whose result will inform future strategic plans.
“We have come to realise that such activities actually do not demand a lot of infrastructure like other sports disciplines something we really need to consider,” Uwacu said.
The Sports and Leisure Bill – that proceeds for debate at committee level – also seeks to have sports federations seek legal personalities to work in a regulated environment which has not been the case.
Article 12 of the draft law mandates the ministry in charge of sports to issue the legal personality to qualified sports associations and that a ministerial order would determine the requirements.
The Bill, once enacted into law, will also provide new mechanisms, standards and places for entertainment across the whole country.