Atraco became the second Rwandan club to win the Cecafa/Kagame Cup Championship on foreign soil after Rayon Sport in Zanzibar 11 years ago.
The win for the national league champions in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum in last Sunday’s final was celebrated by all Rwandans as something of national pride, yet questions will be raised on whether Atraco’s success means that Rwandan football is on the ascendance.
As the feeling of conquering regional club football starts to sink deeper in our heads, the bigger picture of our local football also starts to emerge from its recent slumber.
Does Atraco’s success mean success for the national team? Defiantly not. Most of their players are foreigners and even the Rwandan players on their books have been overlooked for national duty.
Apart from goalkeeper Jean Luc Ndayishimiye, no other Rwandan player on the Atraco book is guaranteed a call-up to the national team. Even Ndayishimiye is second choice after APR’s Jean Claude Ndoli.
Nonetheless, Atraco’s success has come at a time Rwandan football craved a much yearned lift from its recent quagmire where the national team is struggling to get results in their 2010 World Cup and Africa Nations Cup qualifying campaign.
One point from a possible nine and with no guarantee of winning any of their remaining three qualifiers, the picture doesn’t give a very good reading for the fans, yet Rwandans can be proud of having the regional club title, at least for the next 12 months.
After losing the first two games, no one gave them a chance to even reach the quarterfinal, and here they’re as champions, which is good for a club as young as Atraco. It’s also good for national pride.
But that’s not all; local football needs a lot more than just Atraco winning the Kagame Cup.