East or West, home is best. After 26 years in Kigali City, Rayon Sport has decided to return to their original home base in Nyanza following an agreement with Nyanza District authority.
The Blues have been under pressure for many years of not winning trophies as the team struggled with financial problems. The team officially returns to its ancestral home on October 22.
For years, the country’s most supported football club has been struggling to pay players, technical staff and suppliers on time, but after entering into an agreement with Nyanza District, such problems will soon be a thing of the past.
Rayon Sport has not won a trophy since 2005 and to club of their status, that’s way too long even for their staunchest fan to stomach, however, the club Secretary General, Olivier Gakwaya believes the good times will soon be back
In an exclusive interview with Sunday Sport , Gakwaya said, “We want the team back to winning trophies, we have got new sponsors and we hope the team will starting doing well on and off the field, starting next season.”
“With Nyanza District pledging to meet all the requirements that would allow Rayon Sport to be secure, we are hoping first to have stability in terms of money as the club has been struggling to handle its financial responsibilities for a long time” he added.
Rayon was founded in Nyanza on May 1968 and moved to Kigali in 1986 and has been using Amahoro Stadium for their home matches.
According to Gakwaya, the team will continue to play its big matches at Amahoro Stadium while the not so big matches will be played others will be played in Nyanza.
“The District is committed to work with the club, so we are hoping to be challenging for trophies in the coming years now that the mood is quite good in the team” Gakwaya explained.
Rayon has seen bosses come, promises heaven on earth for only to disappear, leaving the club in even worse conditions. Among them were Paul Muvunyi, Charles Ngarambe, Theo Mazimpaka and more lately Albert Rudatsimburwa among others.
“We are happy to have the team back home after so many years in Kigali. We are determined to make the club competitive once again, but first, there is need for stability in terms of solving the financial problems,” stated Nyanza District Mayor Abdallah Murenzi.
He added, “The District will be in charge of the team every day life, but we shall also source for external sponsors to compliment what the district invests.”
“I am convinced that Rayon Sport will start being genuine title contenders every season. The team has not won anything in seven years and we want that to change as soon as possible,”
The Blues have a budget of Rwf80m to work with next season but Murenzi confirmed that Nyanza District will contribute Rwf40m and the rest will come from other sources.
Murenzi noted that they need to see the team back on top of Rwandan football and winning titles, “We need Rayon to fly again that’s why we decided the team to come back to Nyanza and we hope it will not struggle again.”
In the past years Rayon Sport has been struggling to challenge against the big rivals APR, Atraco and now Police mainly because of the financial problems but Murenzi believed that will soon be history. Rayon Sport won the MTN Peace Cup 2005 and the league in 2004.
The club’s lack of clear direction has left fans in questioning the club’s ambition.
On his part, the president of Rayon Sport fans’ club Jean Claude Muhawenimana said that he is happy that the team is finally returning home and he hopes that the club with the biggest fan base in the country will up to challenge for the league title next season.
“As fans, we are happy to go back in Nyanza if it means that the team can start to challenge for the trophies” said Muhawenimana.
While still in Nyanza, Rayon won the league twice in 1975 and 1981, and the Rwanda Cup in 1976, 1979 and 1982, before coming in Kigali in 1986.
In their new found home in Kigali, the club went on win the Cup in 1989, 1993, 1995, 1998, 2005 and the league in 1997, 1998, 2002, 2004. Rayon also became the first Rwandan club to win the Cecafa club championship in 1998 before it was renamed Cecafa-Kagame Cup in 2002.