Rwanda should prioritise cycling

When CHAN Africa Cup of Nations was held in Rwanda last year, I was delighted that our stadiums would be put to good use. MINISPOC (Ministry of Sports and Culture) did a good job to upgrade the stadiums.
Rwandan cyclists in a peloton during the Muhazi Challenge, the 8th leg of the Rwanda Cycling Cup contest, in September 2017. / File
Rwandan cyclists in a peloton during the Muhazi Challenge, the 8th leg of the Rwanda Cycling Cup contest, in September 2017. / File

Editor,

RE: “Construction of new district stadiums to commence next month” (The New Times, October 22).

When CHAN Africa Cup of Nations was held in Rwanda last year, I was delighted that our stadiums would be put to good use. MINISPOC (Ministry of Sports and Culture) did a good job to upgrade the stadiums. The government spent 12 million dollars to prepare the stadiums for the CHAN finals. Amahoro Stadium has 30,000 capacity, Kigali Stadium 22,000, Huye 15,000, and Umuganda 5,000.

Looking at the local football consumer market, and according to reports, Rayon Sports matches pulled in 8,000 attendance while APR FC pulled in 4,000 during the 2014-2015 season. Considering these match attendance numbers and the stadium capacity, it’s surprising that there are three new stadiums being built (of an average of 3,000 people each) and all concentrated in one province (Eastern Province).

Was there a cost benefit study done to justify the new stadiums? Before embarking on new stadiums, does MINISPOC have in place future projections based on the ground studies of sports attendance in Rwanda to justify the investments? What about sustainability? Who will maintain the stadiums? What is the revenue generation like and when will the investment be realised for the stadiums? Are there existing local stadiums in Eastern Province that can be refurbished and capacity increased which would be cheaper than building new stadiums?

I would propose that instead MINISPOC should work with MINEDUC (Ministry of Education) to identify schools with existing football/athletic grounds that can be refurbished at considerably less cost but with immense gains as part of sports talent detection strategy which needs to be enforced.

I think by now Rwanda’s strength seems to lie with cycling. Why not support cycling clubs/associations and support directly Tour du Rwanda and district cycling tournaments that seem to produce really good talents?

MINISPOC needs to rethink its sports strategy in general and focus efforts along the sports value chain (talent detection, supporting athletes/football clubs, etc) and, unless solidly backed with statistics, not invest in costly new stadium projects whose return on investments are in doubt.

MG

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