Poor planning, failure to spot and promote young talent and lack of constant financial flows were cited as major challenges hampering national sport activities in the country.
This was contained in a report by the Senatorial Committee on Social Affairs, Human Rights and Petitions on the status of leisure and sports in the country.
The report was tabled before the Plenary of the Upper House for consideration and its resolutions are submitted to government for implementation.
Senators raised concerns over the shortage of basic infrastructure and poor mindset in the promotion of wider sport activities.
Since 2013, the Government adopted a policy of promoting sports among public servants who are supposed to reserve Friday afternoon for sports activities.
But, according to senators, it is not respected even for government workers whose sport sessions are paid for as people prefer to do their own things.
Consistent failure to meet given targets, on the other hand, has pushed senators to call for special focus on potential games that can position the country on the global stage.
For example, while Rwanda has been excelling in cycling, volleyball, and sitting volleyball, the rest of the domains, including those that receive relatively huge financing, have continuously ranked poorly.
“Going forward, stakeholders should put more attention on areas where the country has excelled. There is also a need to go back to some of the traditional disciplines and improve them,” said Senator Charles Uyisenga.
Looking to the traditional best
Uyisenga called for the reintroduction of certain sports disciplines such as high jump or javelin where the country used to perform well back in the days.
In football, Rwanda currently occupies the 32nd place yet the ministerial target was to feature among the top 10 on the continent. The same applies to basketball where it is ranked 13th when the target was to be among the top three.
According to the report presented by Senator Gallican Niyongana, the chairperson of the committee, other sports disciplines are lagging behind and practiced by few, mainly residents of Kigali and or students at schools.
“In school, there is lack of will to promote sports activities. We also found out that technical support which should be rendered to students seems to be non-existent. Few coaches are available and young talents are not spotted and developed early enough,” he said.
Senator Niyongana further cited infrastructural challenges due to scarcity of land which normally requires enough funds for expropriations and that districts lack result-driven action plans to promote sports.
While sport associations had also called on the government to reduce taxes charged on sports kits and facilities, which stand at the rate of 25 percent, senators also expressed concerns on little or no efforts put in at the national level to attract investors.
Among the resolutions proposed by the Senate was that the government conducts massive awareness campaigns, proper planning and ensure constant financing and availability of required facilities to promote mass sports at all levels.
It should also promote and develop talents among the youth by identifying key institutions and schools to churn out as many graduates as possible in the field of sports since current numbers can’t cover the entire country, the report adds.