Let us not prioritise since we are good at nothing

In world sports until recently the US were miles ahead of other countries in basketball and short distance athletics.
Daniel R. Kasule
Daniel R. Kasule

In world sports until recently the US were miles ahead of other countries in basketball and short distance athletics.

Closer to home, Kenya is athletics long distance power house. Uganda’s slums have produced some of the world’s best boxers and some of the region’s best footballers.

When Brazil was dismantled by Zinedine Zidane inspired France in the 1998 Fifa World Cup finals, there was national rage that the team’s performance made it on to the national congress’s agenda.

Recently Australia’s swimming performance at the 2012 London Olympics was international news.

What is Rwanda’s niche?

Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, South Africa and the Caribbean Islands (West Indies) etc are known as cricket nations.

In 2006 as the national cricket team was preparing for an ICC Affiliate tournament in South Africa, the then Minister of Sports Joseph Habineza made the infamous Cricket isn’t priority remark when the team sought for government funding.

I love the enthusiastic nature of the cricket federation.  They again sought funding for the national girls U-19 team and they were told that the available funds were to facilitate Rayon Sports’ travel.

It’s a shame especially with football because so much time and money has been pumped into it and no results.

How has a sport like cricket with mega individual  investments and producing local talent from an early age, providing youngsters  with opportunities to represent their nation upstaged the over pampered football in attracting raw talent?

Rwanda has competed in seven Summer Games and has never won an Olympic medal save for Jean de Dieu Nkundabera who won a Paralympic bronze medal at the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens.

There have been outstanding Rwandan names in athletics. The likes of Disi Dieudonne, Claudette Mukasakindi and Epiphanie Nyirabarame have made a great impact, yet we could have had more and made Rwanda’s presence felt at international competitions.

Recently I spoke to veteran administrator, who blamed the country’s pathetic sports fortunes on a number of factors, especially lack of adequate funding and neglect of the grassroots.

“The ministry of Sports need to hold talent scouting programmes nationwide, like what other countries in the region do, because schools are fertile grounds. We also need to set up sports excellence centres in all provinces”

“Youngsters need to be encouraged to make a life in sports, from which they can make a living. Just pumping money into sports without proper understanding is useless,” he stated.

One of the biggest challenges facing our sports development is the failure by those who hold authority to come up with clear policies that in turn could help the country realise its niche. 

Another big challenge facing our sports is the failure by the administrators to come up with alternative policies superior to those currently in use.

The heavy investments into football by government should be slashed drastically and be channelled to development of other sports with potential to grow, because with football, despite the investment there is nothing to show for it.

The ministry would rather find ways in increasing alternatives to financing sports in general.

Government’s expenditure on football is huge and, in collaboration with all stakeholders, they should find other sources of resources so government can channel these funds into other sports development.

The stubborn philosophy of our sports federations cost this country the chance to make it big, especially after the scenes of Rwanda’s 2004 Africa Cup of Nations qualification.

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