We need coordination in sports

The last few weeks in Rwanda have been a dirge of complaints and criticism aimed from all angles at all the major players. I listened to Contact FM having a free and frank discussion about the shortfalls of our sporting system, particularly in football.

The last few weeks in Rwanda have been a dirge of complaints and criticism aimed from all angles at all the major players.

I listened to Contact FM having a free and frank discussion about the shortfalls of our sporting system, particularly in football.

The debating panel included experienced pundits and the minister for sports; during this discussion, it became apparent that the whole system needs a rethink.

We need to redefine the lines of authority in sports with a new umbrella body that can better coordinate the meagre resources we have, we also need to develop a sporting culture that is mass-participatory, we need to open up revenue streams for sports, we need to professionalise our institutions and most importantly we need to invest emotions and support our sportsmen and women.

It is not simply a matter of money; we need better coordination between the components of our sporting fraternity; among the sports themselves, sharing equipment and skills.

Getting a national comprehensive sporting programme requires the cooperation of several ministries; Sports, but also Mineduc, Minisante – as they are promoting health, Mineloc as it is the best placed to roll out national programmes, even Minadef would have an interest, as well as host of other issues such as Gender and sports.

The private sector is another big component that is missing from sport in Rwanda, there are a number of big players willing to sponsor sports like Bralirwa and MTN; but the issue is how to get medium-sized businessmen to invest in grassroots sport, maybe tax incentives might help.

The ingredients are all there, they just need to be blended right; TV-Rwanda is looking for a box-office product to really launch the television revolution, the league is looking for a platform, advertisers are looking for place to advertise, the clubs need extra revenue and this begs the question.

Why can’t they sit down and hammer out some kind of a deal? Or even allow private companies to film the games and TVR broadcasts them; right now we cannot get basic replays on TVR and yet the average laptop has software that can do that.

Clubs have to invest in infrastructure, Rayon has 1 million fans and yet plays in a swamp, just get a field, build a wall around it and build stands as you go; that way you can charge for entry and make gate money.

Mass-participation is essential, it is the only way we will unearth the talent hidden in our people.

I was a very mediocre sportsman, slow at football, fumbling in basketball, comical at tennis; but I loved taking part and it is something I will revive, because sport is for life.
A wider talent pool is better for our national teams; America has the richest sports in the world, but the schools and college system is the conveyor belt of talent.

This is why most top sportsmen in USA are university graduates, something rare in this world.

The universities have to endow sports scholarships to students; this breeds a better sportsman, provides opportunities to disadvantaged people, and best of all – it prepares sportsmen for life in case they have to retire early, they have all the skills to cope in life.

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