The Ministry of Sports and Culture (MINISPOC) has promised to double the support to the national cycling and U20 handball teams following their recent triumphs that saw them emerge as the two most outstanding sports disciplines in 2016 season.
The remarks were made on Tuesday by Minister Julienne Uwacu at a cocktail her ministry hosted at Lemigo Hotel and attended by diplomats, different sports federation heads, Team Rwanda cyclists and the U20 handball team players, to celebrate their victories.
Last month, Rwandans for the third time in a row celebrated winning their own annual UCI Africa road race tour of Tour du Rwanda with Valens Ndayisenga (champion) becoming the first rider to win the 2.2 Africa tour twice.
In 2014, he became the first Rwandan rider to win the race since it became part of UCI Africa Tour in 2009. His compatriot Jean Bosco Nsengimana scooped the 2015 edition.
On the other hand, a week ago, after seven years of waiting, Rwanda U-20 men’s handball team claimed their first regional title after defeating hosts Uganda in the final of the International Handball Federation (IHF) Africa Zone 5B Challenge tournament.
The biennial tournament was staged at the Christian University in Mukono District, Uganda. Rwanda fielded only the men’s team at the event which attracted best talents from all regional countries affiliated in Africa Zone 5B.
They included Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, South Sudan and hosts Uganda.
Rwanda finished the four-day tournament as the only unbeaten team, and capped their campaign with a 38-32 win against defending champions Uganda in a closely contested game.
Consequently, Rwanda will represent Africa Zone 5B at the 2017 International Handball Federation (IHF) Continental Challenge tourney which will be held in March, 2017 in Gabon.
In her remarks, Minister Uwacu noted that, “We have hosted this get together to acknowledge the efforts you rendered to make the country proud and make every Rwandan happy, you deserve it because you earned it.”
“I hope this becomes our common goal and I want to assure you (cycling and handball teams) that the ministry will keep supporting you in anything you need to perform better, Rwandans are now accustomed to winning and it should never stop,” she stressed.
On his side, the national cycling team ‘Team Rwanda’ head coach Sterling Magnell attributed the success to a combination of hard work, commitment and patience as he also recognized the support from both local and international sponsors.
Handball team head coach Antoine Ntabanganyimana noted that; “We owe this victory to support from the federation and MINISPOC, who availed everything for the team to prepare for the championship, we can now turn our focus to the continental tourney.”