THE Minister for Sports and Culture, Julienne Uwacu, has challenged U-16 basketball national (boys and girls) teams to raise the country’s flag high at the forthcoming FIBA Africa Zone V Championships.
This year’s events will be held simultaneously from June 1-6 in Mombasa, Kenya. The Minister dared the players when she paid a courtesy call to their training camp at Amahoro Indoor Stadium on Sunday.
The event, which was also attended by, among others, the players’ parents, was aimed at giving both sets of players the final briefing and officially flagging them off before they fly to Mombasa on Wednesday.
“The way you go out there, you don’t go as individuals but rather you’re representing the whole country, therefore you need to work as a team in order to achieve the set goals,” Minister Uwacu told the players.
While handing the national flag to the two team captains, she further said; “Let this be the symbol of the sunlight for you in your journey and keep in mind that you have Rwanda behind you.”
The boys’ team is under the tutulage of national team head coach Moise Mutokambali, while the girls’ team is under Jacques Bahige, who also doubles as coach for league side Ubumwe.
The six-day biennial event will also serve as a qualifier for the 2017 FIBA Africa Under-16 Championships that will be held in Mauritius for boys and Mozambique for girls.
On Thursday, the boys’ team defeated local league side Cercle Sportif de Kigali (CSK) 53-51 in a friendly game played at Amahoro Indoor Stadium, while on Saturday, the girls’ team lost 43-48 against reigning women league champions APR.
Rwanda are the defending champions in both categories, and according to Mutokambali, they are optimistic to successfully defend their titles and qualify for Afro-Basket.
This year, four countries have confirmed participation in the boys’ category. They include; hosts Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda while the girl’s category has five countries namely; Egypt, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.