Who is a role model? A role model is a person whose behaviour, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people.
Rwanda has seen some talented athletes over the years, many of who have gone on to represent the country on the biggest stage like the Olympics and African Cup of Nations.
However, the question is, what has been the impact of these athletes, especially the retired ones, on the present generation, and what have they contributed to the development of sports in their country?
They may have played their role while still active athletes, but after hanging up their boots, kits or whatever you want to call it, what have they done to help the young generation, who want to follow in their footsteps.
How many of the past athletes can really be looked as inspiring figures for the upcoming youngsters, because, in every aspect of life, sports inclusive, we all need someone or something to turn to for motivation in order to be able to achieve our goals.
One of the main reasons Rwandan sportsmen and women don’t go far or achieve much in their respective careers, is because they don’t have role models to look up to for inspiration—or you could simply say they don’t have an example to follow.
I am saying this because, for the best part of the last 13 years, I have had the privilege to either interview or interact with countless ‘high-profile’ Rwandan sportsmen and women, past and present, so I have an idea of what am talking about.
It’s a quite a absurd that majority, if and or when asked about their role models, 9 out of 10 will mention international superstars they only watch on television, the likes of Ronaldo, Messi, Kobe Bryant, David Rudisha, Fabregas, Di Maria, Federer, Chris Froom, Serena Williams or Makhaya Ntini.
Rarely do they mention that they want to be like Dieudonne Disi, Mathias Ntawulikura, Valens Muvala, Hamdi Ndikumana, Oliver Karekezi or Adrien Niyonshuti—why, because, to them, there is little or nothing to admire about their compatriots.
Before am accused of being ungrateful, I must say, some of the past athletes achieved some relative success during their active days and Rwandans will always and forever remember them, but in my opinion, it is not enough to arouse the young generation’s drive to want to reach the top.
In other places, the younger athletes strive to emulate the older ones, who have achieved so much in their careers—it could be winning the World Cup, Champions League, African Cup of Nations, Olympic or World Championships medals.
Unfortunately, for us here, our sportsmen and women have a limited scope of successful achievers to look up to for inspiration, which is why, in parts, they have failed to attain career goals.
Of course, for any athlete to achieve his/her career goal(s), they require hard work in training, dedication, determination and even proper nutrition, but all those factors withstanding, having a role model to look up to or a precedent to want to emulate, has a positive effect it brings into the mix.
If you think, am being cynical, look at this. Before Amavubi qualified for the 2004 AFCON in Tunisia, there was nothing in terms of past accomplishment that the players wanted to emulate, which is why, ever since, we use that qualification as a benchmark to evaluate all the subsequent teams.
Rwanda needs more of such achievements, not just in football or sports, but across the board if the country is ever going to position itself as a regional hub for ‘excellence’ in whatever we wish for.
This is my opinion, what do you think?