Mukura Victory Sports head coach Cedric Kaze is one of the big names in Rwandan local football.
However, the Burundian has his eyes focused on leading the Huye-based side to their first ever league title.
Kaze, who is one of the youngest, if not the youngest coach in the Turbo King Football League, was born on July 15, 1980 in Bujumbura to Deo Bigirimana and Suavis Nshimirimana.
The 33-year-old, Kaze has two elder sisters and is the last born in a family of three children. His father (Bigirimana) passed away last year. Kaze is not yet married but has a five-month old son, Josh Kaze.
The former Prince Louis Rwagasore FC midfielder, attended Ecole Primaire Stella based in Bujumbura before heading to Lycee du Lac Tanganyika for his ordinary and Ecole Technique Secondaire (ETS) de Kamenge for the advanced level studies where he pursued a course in Industrial Electricity.
After completing his secondary school studies at ETS Kamenge, Kaze joined Universite du Lac Tanganyika for his Bachelors degree in Law, which he did simultaneously with his coaching career. He is set to graduate next year.
The ex-Atletico head coach, Kaze is a die-hard fan of Prince Louis Rwagasore FC, the only club he played for from 1996 to 2004 when injuries cut his playing career short and he went into coaching.
Kaze apparently had a short but fairly successful playing stint. As an attacking midfielder, Kaze captained ETS Kamenge to the Burundi national inter-schools’ championship in 2000.
He joined Prince Louis Rwagasore FC junior team in 1996 with a 16-year old raw talent and after three years, he was promoted to the senior team after impressing at the junior level.
From 1999 to 2004, Kaze featured regularly for Prince Louis senior team and during his four-season spell, the team won one Burundian league title in 2001 and never missed out on the top four finish.
“In 2002, we (Prince Louis Rwagasore FC) represented Burundi in the CECAFA Kagame Cup staged in Zanzibar and we lost 1-0 to Simba of Tanzania in the final,” he recalls.
Unfortunately, for all his success at Prince Louis Rwagasore, Kaze never featured for his country’s national team ‘Intamba mu Rugamba’, something he regrets to this day, “That is the only thing that I regret as a player.”
Six months after hanging up his playing boots, the former ETS Kamenge captain made his coaching break-through aged just 25 years as assistant coach to Amars Niyomugabo (head coach) at Prince Louis Rwagasore FC at the start of the league during the 2004/2005 season.
He was named head coach the next season, 2005/2006 and went on to finish first runners-up in the league, behind the champions Vital’O FC.
The following season of 2006/2007, he switched to Atletico FC as an assistant coach to Michel Twahabonye before taking over as head coach the next season until he crossed the border to take over at Mukura last year.
For four seasons at Atletico, the team maintained their place in the top three and was always a big threat to Burundi’s most successful club, Vital’O which won this year’s CECAFA Kagame Cup in Darfur, Sudan after beating Rwanda’s APR in the final.
Kaze won the Burundian league title in the 2010/2011 season and finished second in 2008/2009 and 2011/2012 behind champions Vital’O. He was named Coach of the Year after guiding Atletico to the 2010/2011 Burundian league title.
In 2006, Kaze was also the head coach of the Prince Louis Rwagasore FC side that which was knocked-out from the preliminary round of the CAF Confederation Cup by Rwanda’s Atraco FC.
And he remembers that match very well, “We drew 0-0 in the first-leg match in Bujumbura despite dominating them (Atraco) for larger parts of that game and we lost 3-0 in Kigali in the return leg.”
The youthful coach joined Mukura to replace the sacked Emmanuel Ruremesha when the team were languishing in the bottom half of the table with just eight points from eight matches.
He went on to lead the Southern Province side, one of the oldest clubs in Rwanda to finish a respectable fourth position, behind champions Rayon Sports, second-placed Police and APR, who finished third.
“I was to lead Mukura to a level where they can beat any (local) opponent whether at home or away and win titles most especially the league. I know it is not easy to achieve but it is possible and if we can all work hard enough and together as team, we can realise that dream,” he stated.
He added, “My dream is to coach at an international level and possibly in Europe but currently I am with Mukura and I am happy at the club.”
“The Ministry of Sports, the football federation and league teams should all play a leading role in developing the sport from the grass-roots level,” he urged.
He added, “And also, it should be made mandatory for every Turbo King Football League club to have a junior team and these teams should play their league concurrently with the national team, this way, the country would have a large pool of players to pick from at all levels.”