In the last decade Rwandan football has gone through a massive transformation. And several personalities’ decisions have had an impact on the game in Rwanda.
Here I come up with the 11 most influential personalities whose decisions I believe have had an impact on the development of Rwandan football.
President Paul Kagame: No doubt the country’s No.1 fan has contributed largely to the development of Rwandan football. He was very instrumental in the formation of army side APR Fc. The military side has gone on to become one of the biggest sides in region, attracting many regional players.
Kagame’s influence on the game goes beyond Rwanda’s boundaries; he has sponsored the Cecafa club championship for several years now to a tune of $60.000.
His contribution to the national team goes beyond measure.
Recently during the World Cup trophy tour of the continent, he became the first and known Rwandan to have laid his hand the coveted trophy.
Maj. Gen. Ceaser Kayizari: Take it or leave it, the name Ceaser Kayizari will always be associated with Rwanda’s maiden and only qualification to the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations after piping giants Ghana at Amahoro stadium.
It was during his reign as the president of the Football Federation (Ferwafa) that Rwanda, the national football house was built and officially inaugurated by Fifa’s president Sepp Blatter.
It was during his reign as the head of Rwandan football that, the national team reached its highest mark in World Ranking, at 68.
Gen. James Kabarebe: He is APR Fc’s Honorary President. He wields influence in the football fraternity thanks to his generosity. Stories are told of how the Chief of Defence Staff has at sometimes contributed to the running of cash strapped local rival clubs. He rarely misses a local game.
Sepp Joseph Blatter: He is the president of the world’s football governing body, Fifa. His initiative; Goal project saw the construction of the Football House (Ferwafa headquarters) and the several other projects have taken off in Rwanda.
The $700,000 football complex was partly constructed at the funding of Fifa with $450,000 and Ferwafa with $250,000 on a government given land.
Issa Hayatou: After being elected to the Caf presidency in 1988, Hayatou has enjoyed the loyalty of most of Africa by ensuring that each national association president had a place on one of Caf’s standing committees.
His biggest impact on Rwanda was the awarding of the 2009 African Youth Championship and the U-17 championship to Kigali.
Hayatou said that he was impressed with the way Rwanda hosted the biennial event and called on Rwanda to start preparation to host the next edition of 2011.
Jimmy Gatete: He scored the all important goals that took Rwanda to the 2004 Africa Nations Cup, one against Uganda in Kampala and the other against Ghana in Kigali and his contribution cannot be over looked. Between 2003 and 2006, his name became synonymous with Rwandan football.
Brig. Gen Jean Bosco Kazura: By the virtue of being the president of the country’s football governing body, Ferwafa, Kazura wields football powers. His decisions in the last four years have impacted the path of the game in the country.
Celestine Musabyimana: He was the Kayizari’s deputy and he has remained an influential figure thanks to his international connections. He is a member’s Caf’s executive committee. However, his name was in a way tarnished after the 2006 World Cup’s tickets scandal.
Jules Kalisa: Ferwafa’s Chief Executive Chief is the enforcer of the football body’s decisions and his street-wise character has endeared him to the football community and he has rose through the ranks like a man on a mission.
Joseph Habineza: The game of football directly follows under his ministry of Sports and Culture. One of the popular ministers in the cabinet, Habineza can be taken as one of the trustees of Rwandan football.
The New Times: By virtue of being Rwanda’s only daily, news, opinions and analyses carried by Time Sport, (The New Times’ Sports pages) are wildly read and used to take decisions.
The New Times’ Sports desk is wildly consulted by international media houses on matters to do with Rwandan football. For the third year running the desk has been on BBC African Footballer of the Year, Rwandan jury.