Rwanda has, in the recent past, established itself as a successful organiser of major sports events, including world cup and continental championships.
Following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, sports has played a major role in the country’s healing process, by not only bringing communities together, but also attracting thousands of foreigners to Kigali.
Many of these guests, both players and officials, have left the country with a much better understanding of the true and generous nature of the Rwandan people, as opposed to the negative perception created about the country after the Genocide. Rwandans are ardent sports fans, and are always concerned with the performance of their teams.
Nonetheless, apart from a handful of significant achievements, such as the country’s maiden appearance in the African Cup of Nations in 2004, and the recent impressive performances in sitball and basketball, there’s little to show for the passion and support shown by the Government and the Rwandan people.
Most of our teams, from football to athletics, have put up dismal performances, much to the disappointment of the fans. President Paul Kagame and his Government have continued to support many sports disciplines, including local and regional competitions, but this support, far outweighs the performances of our teams.
At the moment, Rwanda is hosting the African Continental Cycling Competition, which has attracted top cyclists from the continent. Last week, the Rwanda Cycling Federation dropped one of the leading local cyclists, Abraham Ruhumuriza, over indiscipline.
Cases of misconduct among players are not new in our sports fraternity. It arises either out of a false belief that you have nothing more to learn or from sheer lack of respect for the game, the fans and the officials. Either way, it spells doom for a player, or anyone else for that matter, to feel indispensable and to attempt to hold the entire team at ransom. That’s the beginning of one’s fall from grace.
If Rwandan teams are going to win any silverware and to pull crowds once again, they must reinforce discipline among players. That is the key to any future sports success.