Rwanda FA seeks ties with Spain in youth football

RWANDA football governing body (Ferwafa) is seeking a partnership with Spain Football Federation as part of broader efforts to enhance the development of the country’s grassroots football.
Ferwafa president Celestin Ntagungira. Times Sport/ File.
Ferwafa president Celestin Ntagungira. Times Sport/ File.

RWANDA football governing body (Ferwafa) is seeking a partnership with Spain Football Federation as part of broader efforts to enhance the development of the country’s grassroots football.

Indeed Ferwafa chairman Celestin ‘Abega’ Ntagungira is currently in Spain on the invitation of his counterpart Angel Maria Villar Llona, a Spanish football legend.

Speaking to Times Sport ahead of his departure to Spain on Sunday, Ntagungira said his federation was eager to strike a long-term partnership deal with the Royal Spanish Football Federation.

“We have verbally talked about the possibility of both federations forming a partnership which could help in matters of football development in Rwanda,” he said.

“This is an opportune moment considering that we are in the process to nurture young talent through the few existing local academies and other institutions,” said the former Fifa referee.

“Going forward, grassroots football is the way forward.”

Ntagungira said his discussions with Llona will encompass the possibility of establishing an exchange programme between the two countries.

He noted that Spain, being the world football champions and boasting one of the best leagues in the world, is in a strong position to help develop Rwanda’s football.

“There is so much we can learn from Spain as the World and European champions; and I am sure they are in position to help us improve our game,” he added.

Llona, who made 361 appearances for Spanish side Athletic Bilbao, is also the president of the Fifa and Uefa Referees committees.

Ntagugira is optimistic both sides will, in the coming days, sign a memorandum of understanding that will open channels for co-operation.

Both countries have had contrasting experiences in recent past. On the one hand, Rwanda’s football has taken a nosedive over the past few years, while on the other, Spain has dominated world football, winning the 2010 Fifa World Cup and the last two Uefa championships. 

Rwanda sees grassroots and youth football as the single most important strategy that could help turn around its fortunes in football.

The country’s maiden and only appearance at the African Cup of Nations – in 2004 in Tunisia – remains its biggest achievement so far.

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