Rwandans and their football is like bread and butter and you would say that whatever goes right or wrong, especially with the national team, becomes a matter of national interest.
For instance, locals clubs, including the big two APR FC and Rayon Sports, can make changes in their technical staff every now and again, and rarely there’s any noise made whether by the fans and or in the media.
However, when changes are made in the national team, the whole country jumps up and down as if a volcanic eruption has gone off! Save our breath, time and resources, because, in my opinion and without prevaricating, the current Amavubi is both useless and hopeless.
It may sound naïve or even utter ridiculous, but really can’t Rwanda do without a national team for a couple of years? As this remains the only option that hasn’t been tried or even tested in the man years of trying to build a strong and winning national team that every Rwandan can be proud of.
How is Amavubi useless? It is a waste of time in a sense that, because, the national team is not doing well despite the hundreds of millions of francs put in it every year, and not achieving anything on regional or continental levels, it means it’s doing very little if anything in terms of marketing Brand Rwanda.
And hopeless since it’s doesn’t give Rwandans or any sympathizers at least hope that things will get better anytime soon, therefore, the riches spent on Amavubi for whatever competition can be of better use in any other sector in terms of value for money, and definitely returns on investments.
Don’t forget that football gets the lion’s share of the total budget allocated to sports by the government, so any argument that, that money is better of helping the Rwandans living in poverty in the countryside, wouldn’t off the mark.
A couple of years back, President Paul Kagame, possibly out of frustration with what had become of a stingless Amavubi (Wasps), suggested that the national team should be dismantled and effort diverted into setting up sustainable youth development structures.
The Head of State, probably made his remarks with tongue in cheek, but looking back and putting it in context with the current stage of Amavubi, is when you realize he had a very big point, which was at that time, not taken seriously.
Imagine, if had gone ahead to force through his suggestion and all the money that would be spent on Amavubi in the next five years, invested in developing youth structures from the grassroots, maybe we wouldn’t be here talking about how useless and hopeful the national team is.
The current Amavubi, even if you gave it to the best coach there is in the world, and there are quite a few including the likes of Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola or even rookie Zinedine Zidane, they would still struggle to achieve anything.
Which brings me to the main gist of this article, the sacking of Johnny McKinstry, despite signing a two-contract extension in March, following Amavubi’s run to the quarter-finals of the 2016 African Nations Championship (CHAN) held in Rwanda.
The 30-year-old Northern Irishman might not have been the best for the job out there but at least we knew what he was capable of and not, so given the current state of Amavubi, sacking him was not the wisest idea—but anyway, how often do we make wise decisions regarding the national team!
All we do to changes coaches whenever the national team is not doing well and we fail to make proper analysis to get the root cause of the team’s dismal performances and continue silverware drought—Rwanda’s last trophy came way back in 1999 when Rwanda B won the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup.
McKinstry, who I don’t know personally, may not have been everyone’s cup of tea regarding his ability to take Amavubi to the ‘next level’ but to think that a Rwandan can do a better job is over-stretching our imagination.
The closest that connects me to McKinstry is that we both support Newcastle United, so this article should not to be looked at as though it in his favour or against appointing one of our own as most people have been calling out for.
McKinstry has left BUT Amavubi’s problems are highly likely to continue for one simple reason—he was not the problem, as were all his predecessors, starting with Ratomir Dujković, who we stupidly let go after guiding Rwanda to the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Tunisia