Thousands of Rwandans have become united through sports. On a typical match day, cafés, bars, and mini-nightclubs stay open all night hosting excited soccer fans glued to screens cheering their favourite local and international teams.
Celestin Nzeyimana, the Secretary General of National Paralympic Committee of Rwanda says sports bring out a high degree of connection among the general population.
“In the area of sports for Rwandans patriotism represents the love of one’s country and the ideals for which the nation stands. “The role of sports leads to social cohesion, solidarity, stability and identity,” he said.
Traditionally a sport in Rwanda was a form of celebration, a friendly competition between community members during feasts and holidays or a way to honor visiting dignitaries. Friends and family, especially young men, would match skills and strength in such events as wrestling, high jumping, and archery and by hurling a lance through a moving hoop.
“While watching the under 17 games the other day, I couldn’t help but notice how RTVs coverage was too patriotic for my taste.
Maybe it’s just my taste: Rwanda has never seen such an explosion of interest in sport broadcasts,” said John Katongole, a fan of APR FC.
Patriotism is obviously important in any society today, ad sports is one way of cementing this unity.