I disagree with the sports columnist, Hamza Nkutu, when he undermines the ability of the Under -17 national side by drawing a line between Coach Tardy and his team.
In his Sunday Times column a day after the under-17 Africa Championship final showdown, I quote; “The truth in my modest observation is, the team isn’t so good but it has a good coach”.
What I read from this statement is a hefty amount of cynicism, not sorry to say. The observation made by the columnist possessed a dash of incongruity in the sense that one cannot have a luxury to praise a coach and discredit a team at the same time.
That’s a very paradoxical remark. A coach’s worth will always, in a logical sense, be measured against how the team performs on the pitch.
If put that way that team was not good in the just concluded tournament, then Coach Tardy was not good. I think qualifying for the Mexico’s World Cup and earning a berth in finals is a perfect indictor of a good team.
Soccer pundits should put it this way; Tardy and his team are good and they deserve to continue working together for better results in future. The two parties (players and coach) are inseparable. If you went to an old man’s house and praised him as a good person and dishonored his offspring as a pain in the foot, you would not be helping.
Despite slipping away from winning the continental title that we narrowly lost 2-1 to the Burkinabe side in the final tie, the young boys made an impressive display in the tournament and showcased a great potentiality in terms of football.
Great ball-handling skills, power on the ball, endurance, fantastic runs, impressive short and long passes, good spirit, balance of physical approach and flowing football, were all well exhibited.
This tournament has greatly impacted on my erstwhile thinking in terms of Rwandan football. I had erroneously lived with a view that football was not meant for Rwandese the way it is for the Indians and Pakistanis – hey, no offence intended. But I was, following this African championship, impressed and made to believe that Rwanda has got an oasis of talent untapped in her thousand hills.
The youth development programme, initiated a couple of years ago by combined efforts of soccer governing body, Ferwafa and government of Rwanda, has not only saved us from importation of stressful Congolese but created a belief that Rwandese are raw talents the region and world is yet to see. This approach will only create Rwandese identity of football but also serve as a lasting solution to embarrassing drama where Congolese imports would make weird demands on a match day or threaten to boycott.
This is a commendable developmental strategy of real football. This initiative has also set a good example that has subsequently attracted elite football clubs and a couple of individuals to set up academies across the country. This concept, if not distorted in any way, will indubitably and significantly raise the standard of football in the country.