RE: “The problem in our sports is structural” (The New Times, June 27). All must start from the grassroots with incentives for private sector to be involved. Private sector will only get involved if the activity adds to their bottom line in the short/medium/long-term and that happens only when the sport in question, in this case football (by the way the sport in Rwanda with the most funding), has traction and believe you me all of us want to be associated with success.
Our youth are talented as it was proven when the Amavubi Under-17 made it to the FIFA World Cup 2011 in Mexico which means that, with the right steering at the top of football affairs in our country, we can make it back there again and again and again.
I don’t buy the structural issue as leadership is all about accountability. Whoever is in charge of football has the ability to influence changes on the structure, policy and what have you if that was the main issue.
In the Rwanda I know, we have imihigo (performance contracts) and if the results are not there you get the boot or you know what to do and move on. That’s why we are able to register many successes in different fields with limited resources and, again, this boils down to leadership.
Let us not dilute individual responsibility into collective responsibility. If my phone doesn’t have signal, I don’t blame the fact the mobile operator has many clients and it is just too much for them to serve me. I call a spade by its name and leave that company and switch to another operator.
In football, we have one federation and it should be working as efficiently as possible. Now back to the so-called independence and non-interference from government in FIFA federations, these are fairytales they want us to believe in Africa. The corruption scandal at FIFA was unearthed not because the ethics committee there was working but because one superpower was pissed off at one of their many unwise decisions...the rest is history as we know. Talk about non-interference!
If we want to see change in the football arena in Rwanda, we must invest heavily into the sport. This begins with the responsible ministry before even pointing fingers elsewhere. What is a national policy on soccer all about? It means the government is closely monitoring the progression of football talent, where we are as country, where we want to be the timeframe we have agreed upon etc...
There is a big problem of flip-flopping when dealing with talents. There should be soccer academies in Rwanda where youngsters explore their talent. Each school should be having sports grounds. Villages should have football grounds where people meet and play soccer every evening.
There is no shortcut to success. Having a team that can take Rwanda to big tournaments on the continent and beyond requires that we start right from the ground upwards.
Look at how Rwanda cycling is doing well and recognised globally. It is because government is behind the federation and the cyclists, while the private sector (banks, insurance companies, etc) are also in full support.
But all this is because of the way they are organised.
Taking football seriously means we are creating a source of employment and national heroes, and concentrating our young generation into productive and healthy activities, thus saving them from such vices as alcoholism, idleness.
We can have our own Lukakus, Kantes and Wanyamas.