National golf team coach Jules Mutesa has selected a provisional squad of 12 players as the team continues preparations for this year’s East African Golf Challenge set for August 22-26 at the 18-hole Gymkhana Golf Course in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The team will be reduced to nine players (eight on the official team and one reserve), who will travel to Dar es Salaam on August 21, a day before the 19th edition of the annual competition gets underway with the flag-raising ceremony.
Mutesa said the final team will be announced shortly before departing for the tournament, and this is intended to avoid any room for complacency.
The team, which is spearheaded by Rwanda’s 19-year-old number one amateur golf player Aloys Nsabimana, trains daily at the Kigali golf course in Nyarutarama.
“When you name the final team so early like this, it tends to create complacency among some players because they know they’re already assured of their place,” Mutesa, himself a professional golf player, told Times Sport.
Rwanda has made 14 appearances before this year and hosted the annual event three times in 2005, 2010 and 2015 with their best finishing being first runners up in 2005, while last year, the team finished fifth in Ethiopia.
However, Mutesa believes this year could be different because of the fact the players are putting more focus on the foursome in training, something that has been ignored previously as the team tended to concentrate on the singles.
“The reason we haven’t been doing well previously is because we were concentrating mainly on the singles while ignoring the foursome and this is the area where we have struggled to get points but from today (yesterday) It’s what we’re going to focus on,” he explained.
And another factor, which has changed, the coach reveals, “Previously, the team used to be the same every year but now we have changed the strategy by giving different players an opportunity.”
“This way, every player that gets the chance, is eager to impress so that he can be retained on the team for the next edition, unlike in a situation where players feel very comfortable knowing that, no matter how they perform, they will still be on the next list.”
The five-day tournament will attract six countries namely; Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi and the hosts Tanzania. Uganda are the defending champions.
The provisional team:
Aloys Nsabimana, Emmanuel Nkurunziza (18), James Ndikumana (30), Leonard Nkurunziza (34), Celestin Nsanzuwera (17), Francois Habimana (32), Emmanuel Habineza (30), Emmanuel Ritayisire (28), Jean Ndababonye (27), Alain Niyonkuru (17), Emile Shimiyumuremyi (30) and Jean Claude Nzeyimana (25).