FERDINAND Rutikanga is a household name especially among the ardent viewers and listeners of a popular radio and television talk show aired every Saturday by the Rwanda Office of Information (ORINFOR).
What makes Rutikanga famous are his comments and personality akin to the Shakespearian Fool. In one his interventions, with a backdrop of a string of poor results by the national football team, Rutikanga questioned the name of the national side; Amavubi (Wasps).
He argued that Amavubi or Wasps belong to the class of insects shared by among others; flies.
His take was that this was not inspiring enough and suggested that the national side be called Gorillas. As usual the audience was thrown into fits of laughter but Rutikanga had made his point in the wittiest of ways.
Perhaps one fact Rutikanga didn’t point out was that male wasps by their nature don’t sting after all. Only females do!
On a serious note, last Saturday’s shambolic display by the national side, Amavubi, and the subsequent resignation of the National team coach, Sellas Tetteh, have conspired to bring to the fore the rot in the national senior side.
The 5-0 drubbing by Ivory Coast in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, last weekend, was the fourth biggest defeat of all time after the 1976’s 0-5 loss to Cameroon, 1983’s 0-5 loss to Tunisia and the 1999’s 0-5 loss to neighbours Uganda.
At Amahoro stadium, last Saturday, Tetteh endured boos from the fans, he paced to and fro the touchline.
Hired on a two-year contract, last year in February, Tetteh was tasked with taking the national side to their second appearance in the Africa Nations’ Cup, as well as guiding the U-23 side to qualify for the All African Games in Maputo, Mozambique.
The Africa Nations’ Cup qualification campaign has been a disaster; the Wasps have won only one in five games and is now at the bottom of the table, with hopes for qualifying for the finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea dead and buried.
Tetteh guided Amavubi to qualify for the second edition of Africa Nations’ Championship (CHAN) in Sudan but the wasps bowed out of the competition at the preliminary stage.
He also guided the team at the CECAFA challenge cup but bowed out at the quarter final stage.
The Ghanaian coach must have looked at his report card and decided to move on before he was pushed. Lest we forget; this is a man who began his coaching career in 1995. He guided the Ghana under-20 team to the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2009 becoming the first African team to win the competition.
The question to ponder is what became of Tetteh or is it Tetteh after all?
Tetteh is not the first causality of the national side. The Sports Ministry has so far hired and fired over a half a dozen high profile coaches and the list grows by the day. If there is a lesson we ought to learn from this, is that the buck does not stop with the coaches.
There is a whole chain of issues that need to be put right. The most glaring flaw in our football is the limited pool of players to choose from.
Football development has seen a very pivotal twist in the form of youth development through football academies in the last few years. The country’s maiden appearance at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in June this year is testament to this. The question is how the junior team will progress to form the national senior side.
The natural progression would be for them to join local First Division clubs and benefit from playing regular competitive football.
But faced with a situation where the league is not competitive enough, where clubs fail to honour their fixtures because they cannot pay player salaries let alone find transport, we will only continue with the chain of failure.
In an attempt to become a footballing nation, we need a new approach in football management. We need new ingenious ways to run clubs by enabling them to generate their own incomes and break away from a reliance on handouts.
Hitherto, it would take meticulous planning, patience, discipline, sacrifice and ingenuity to revive Rwandan football.