On Saturday 3rd August, 2011, Rwanda hosted the African Cup of Nations qualifier between Rwanda and Ivory Coast. Like many Rwandans, I followed the match with belief that we would upset the African giants! By the end of the game; the score board read; Rwanda 0 : 5 Ivory Coast. I walked out of the stadium with my facedown not because we had lost to Ivory Coast but because I do not remember a single day recently when we have won an international football game. I kept asking myself what happened to the days when Rwanda was a dominant force in the region! What happened to the days when our League was the best? What happened to the days when Rwanda would defeat the likes of Ghana? Where are those days? Do these players have national pride when they are playing? What could be the solution this “walk of shame!”
When I sit to watch T.V today, I see Super Sports advertising the Ugandan and the Kenyan football Leagues yet three years ago, the Rwandan Soccer League was a class ahead of all these leagues! What happened to our football? Where is the “gaciro” that the President always encourages us to have? Do these people who put on the national colors and go to represent us ever put in their minds the sense of national pride? What is Federation of Rwandan Football (Ferwafa) planning to do?
I have some advice for the people in charge of football in Rwanda which I think will help us improve;
Setup a junior League. We need a junior Football League that will help us groom talents. We don’t have to wait for one to be 17 to start shinning. Let’s start from the ground and identify talent and groom it! This league could be based on Provincial level so that it’s cost effective in terms of management and funding.
Attract international media and cooperate companies to invest in Sports. Why is that its only BRALIRWA that funds the League? Let each club find its own sponsors to make it financially independent. International media will attract international scouts who will then export our local talents to big clubs. This is what has made countries like Nigeria shine.
Commercialize football. Today, Rwandan football is not a business. It’s more to do with entertainment rather than an incoming generating activity. Attract investors to invest in our clubs. Sell the opportunities to even the international community. This will not only earn high revenues to the clubs but it will diversify the national tax base too.
Monitor the development of the U-17 Wasps. The young lads did a great job in Mexico bringing Rwanda to the international soccer map. Please do a serious follow up because they hold our key to rising again.
Rwanda Television should get serious and start broadcasting our local games more. More than any other country in the region, we pride ourselves in our national League. Please TVR, get the right equipment and broadcast the games. It hurts very much when the signal is not clear or sometimes when you brink and miss a goal, you will not get a chance of seeing again because there is no replay! So you have to keep your eyes wide open for 90 minutes.
The above are things that I believe that will promote our football and one will not have to have the walk of shame again. Proudly Rwandan!
The Author is the Regional Youth Caucus Representative for Rwanda in the Commonwealth and the Founder of Innovative Partners’ Rwanda; a Youth Development firm.