FERWAFA presidential aspirant Félicité Rwemalika has outlined key areas of focus for her term in office, should she win the forthcoming Rwanda Football Federation elections for position of president scheduled for December 30 at Lemigo Hotel.
FERWAFA presidential elections were initially supposed to take place on September 30 but were put on hold a week earlier after FIFA instructed the federation to review irregularities and the electoral code which had been violated in the process.
Rwemalika is the current vice president of Rwanda National Olympic and Sports Committee and doubles as the head of women’s football development chamber in FERWAFA.
He had a chat with Saturday Sport reporter Richard Bishumba about her aspirations and priorities.
If at all Rwemalika defies odds and beats the incumbent Vincent Nzamwita for FERWAFA presidency, she will be the first woman to lead the country’s football governing body.
Here are five key areas of focus that Rwemalika plans to put emphasis on as she attempts to revitalize Rwandan football that she says has stagnated under the current leadership.
1. Increasing competitions and supporting grassroots football
Rwemalika, if elected, plans to make the topflight league and second tier division more competitive and more organized but most importantly, she wants to introduce the third division league.
The third division league will be for youth football so that youngsters can get competitions, exposure and a platform to harness their talents.
She plans to take football to provincial level, whereby each province can at least organize two competitions in a year. That way, she believes, “there will be balance and certainty that no talent is left behind.”
The award-winning women’s football promoter, Rwemalika, also plans to work closely with Rwanda School Sports Federation (RSSF) to support the inter-schools championship, a competition that has been for so long not been given importance.
Rwemalika insists that, if given the attention it deserves, the inter-schools tournament can be a feeder competition for national football league sides as well as youth and junior national teams as it is in other neighboring countries.
Asked about what she has in store for women’s football, Rwemalika said, “The women’s football is currently given little attention and resources, that has to change.”
“Our female footballers and the league deserve better. We will support teams, increase women’s football competitions and look for sponsors, specifically for women’s football,” she explained.
She further added that, “The same applies with the national team; there is need for a national team coach and capacity building for women in football such as coaches, referees and physiotherapists.”
Rwemalika also eyes to initiate a football development fund to support grassroots level and youth football.
2. Transparency and accountability
The FERWAFA presidential hopeful emphasized that,” To earn the trust of partners and supporters, we need to work in a vividly transparent environment.”
“Everything will be at hand of the general assembly to decide, including budget, there will be no more unilateral decisions. We will be reporting to sponsors and members of the general assembly on time and be involved in the process if deemed necessary.”
She also noted that all members of the general assembly will be given equal chances to express their opinions and rights to hold the executive committee accountable.
3. More efforts and improvements in the national team
While the national football team (Amavubi) and other national teams solely depend on the funding of government through the Ministry of Sports and Culture, Rwemalika, under her tenure, wants to focus on looking for partners and sponsors for the national teams.
She is also optimistic to set up an advisory board for the national team and put more effort in helping more fans to travel with the national teams for international competitions.
4. Football infrastructure
If elected, Rwemalika has put the improvement of football infrastructure and good maintenance of the existing ones among her key priorities as FERWAFA president.
She has promised to work with the concerned authorities to construct new stadia and acquire necessary equipment for the national team and local football competitions to be run in a more professional manner.
5. Introduction of Futsal and Beach Soccer
Rwemalika finds the lack of variety in local football as a hindrance to talents and looks forward to advancing the agenda of introducing Beach Soccer and Futsal (indoor football) in Rwanda if she is elected the next FERWAFA president for 2018-2021.
“Only clinging on normal football won’t help, maybe we can do better in beach or indoor football. We have just got to be bold and give it a chance, we need a variety,” says Rwemalika.