RE: “Rwandan football needs a dose of home-grown solutions” (The New Times, August 25).
Hiring local coaches will not solve anything. All it will do is reinforce the reflex to hire western coaches.
The countries mentioned in the article all have one thing in common that Rwanda does not have: a vibrant informal football sector. That is, kids everywhere kicking the ball wherever they find space to set up (makeshift) goalposts. And even with this, these countries still fail at the final step of winning international titles.
Let’s be honest, Rwanda is not a very sporting nation. And a big reason for that is lack of infrastructure. We do not have the luxury of setting up football pitches in every sizable area. There’s honestly no space for that. But that is what is needed to move Rwandan football forward. To start from the grassroots and at a young age, providing the space for young talent to spawn and be nurtured. It’s a dilemma for which I see no quick fix.
We need to provide an enabling environment for the future Amavubi to grow their talents and skills, but on the other hand, where should this happen, in terms of actual real estate? It’s an interesting problem, in this hilly country of ours.
I would like to suggest a solution that will seem painful in the short-term, but highly likely to bear fruit in the long-term:
1. Stop paying astronomical salaries to foreign coaches. Immediately.
2. Give the coaching job to whoever Rwandan is the most able.
3. Accept that, at current, Amavubi will most likely continue to lose a lot of matches. Be patient.
4. Meanwhile, identify and liaise with football institutions around the world that provide world-class football coaching training. Sign MoUs, do whatever else is needed, raise and allocate the funds, and send our people to these training schools to acquire requisite certification.
5. When these coaches return, involve them heavily in setting up similar training infrastructure in Rwanda, so that future generations of coaches will be trained locally by compatriots.
6. Meanwhile, while all the aforementioned actions are going on, promote sports and establish sports facilities in our primary and secondary schools. Initiate nationwide inter-school football championships. And, promote the love and support for football among all Rwandans.