In the last 17 years, the country has rebuilt its sports structure to a pleasant level, but mainly with government money.
The development of football in Rwanda has relied on government’s intervention unlike many other countries where football is an alternative driver for socio-economic development with the private sector playing the bigger role.
There is invaluable wisdom in the African proverb that states: “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.”
This proverb comes to mind as I think of the national responsibilities Rwanda faces in meeting the objectives enshrined in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and Vision 2020.
These national and international developmental strategies should serve as the backbone of periodic self-assessment of our work.
However much the government is trying with its over-stretched resources to lift the country’s football, the private sector should take a leading role by investing in football.
Therefore, failure by the private sector to invest in not only football and sports, in general, has not only affected our sports sector but even it has hindered the success of many companies, that are seeking to gain revenues or raise their image.
Indeed, many countries have identified the need to link football to socio-economic development. The private sector in Rwanda has, over the years, been docile not knowing that sport is a good marketing tool.
Apart from Bralirwa and MTN, no other company can boast as having played a significant role in developing football.
Yet although these companies have, at once, or regularly, been associated with the development of the game, their input is still low compared to the demand.
Bralirwa’s association with local football is through their brand Coca Cola (interschool tournament) and Primus which has sunk Rwf335m in the national league.
Most companies seem not to have a clear marketing structure to identify what they need, and has affected the private sector’s engagement in the development of football in Rwanda.
But it is not too late for both the sports federations and the private sector to get into partnerships because they will benefit both parties.
The main reasons for considering partnership with the private sector should be to accomplish shared goals, reach actors you might not, otherwise, reach and access funding for development work that may otherwise remain unused.
Experience shows that much benefit can be derived from partnering with companies that are highly influential and can help to connect the activities of NGOs and non-profits on a global scale.
A business might employ the best human resource available and may have experience, knowledge and access to broad networks that can make a difference and have helped non-profits in reaching some of their objectives and in amplifying impact.
The government has done its best and brought football and sports this in general, from a poor state; it is time now for the private sector to play its part.
It was absurd that no single company came out to partner with Ferwafa and the Sports ministry during the national U-17 team’s participation in the Fifa World Cup.
Since 1994, the private sector has not done anything tangible that we can be proud of generally because all the success that the country has achieved has all been under government’s initiatives.
So, I believe the private sector’s engagement in football can lead us to Africa Cup of Nations finals and World Cup finals by 2020 and this could help the government save their minimal input which could be channeled elsewhere as our sports sector become more sustainable by the day.