As the country prepares to host the ninth African Under-17 Championship, starting this weekend, it will be another opportunity for us to show the world what exactly Rwanda is made of.
The bi-annual football competition, which has been held since 1995, is organised by the game’s continental governing body, CAF. Eight teams, including the hosts Rwanda will, in the next fortnight, starting Saturday, be competing for the top prize.
Rwanda has received praise from various high profile quarters for being good hosts; in fact this upcoming tournament was a reward for organizing a successful, African U-20 Championship in 2009.
Unfortunately, at the time, our team was out of luck and could not go beyond the group stage, which included the two eventual finalists, Ghana and Cameroon.
Ghana under the guidance of Sellas Tetteh, the current Rwanda national team coach, won the tournament and also went on to win the Under -20 Fifa World title held in Egypt the same year.
Again, Rwanda has the chance to not only have a go at a major continental championship title at home, but to play in their first world championship, which will be held in Mexico later in the year, provided they reach, at least, the semifinals.
For our youngsters, to give a good account of themselves, they and their coach will need the support of the entire nation, starting with the championship’s opening game against Burkina Faso on Saturday at Amahoro National Stadium.
And If, they can manage to do what only one (Gambia) of the last eight hosts of this tournament has done, which is to win the title, that will be a bit of history. However, to reach the semifinal will be a great new year present for the fans and the country.