Meet Mukura forward Bertrand Iradukunda

Iradukunda tries to go past APR players in a past league match. File.

Mukura Victory Sports and Amavubi Stars forward Bertrand Iradukunda is one of the most celebrated young players in Rwandan football.

Having received his first cap for the senior national team last September 2014, under by Stephen Constantine, Iradukunda is ready to improve his football career.

Iradukunda is the one of the new generation of football stars in the making. Saturday Sport profiles the Rwanda international and one of the most celebrated local footballers.

Who is Iradukunda?

Born on January 1, 1996 in Gasabo District, to Théogène Cyiza and Maria Alice Umutesi, Iradukunda is the first born in a family of four; three boys and one girl.

He attend Kimihurira Primary School, and when he reached P2, he moved to E.R.G Muhanga primary school until P6. He joined La Colombiere for ordinary level before moving to APE Rugunga for advanced level in History-Economics-Geography but dropped out in Senior 5 to focus on his football career.

Iradukunda believed he can make it in local football as early as 2009 when he joined APR football academy, but until then, playing football to him, was just for leisure.

Early days

“Football has always been my favourite sport since childhood. I have never tried any other sport, but I never thought I could become the player I am today.” He says

“I started having high interest in football when I was barely a ten-year-old, a few years later, I joined Muhanga-based J.S Football Academy, thanks to the academy coach Michel Niyonsaba, who scouted me.”

Iradukunda was inspired by Italian club Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo who is his idol.

His hobbies include playing and watching football, watching movies, modeling, dancing, music and hanging out with friends.

Iradukunda is a footballer who also does modelling as a side gig. He showcases fashion designs for the moshions brand.

After almost two years in the academy, Iradukunda was called up in the U17 national team for AFCON U17 qualifiers where Rwanda was eliminated by Botswana 6-5 on penalties in Kigali following an aggregate of 1-all draw.

In late 2012, Iradukunda was signed by Isonga FC. He served the youthful side for one season and at the end of the season, the Ferwafa-sponsored club was relegated to second division league alongside AS Muhanga after finishing bottom of the 14-team league table.

He played his first topflight league season with the youthful side in 2013.

After the 2013/2014 season, Isonga got relegated to the second tier. He played for the club for one season before rejoining APR the following year.

 Iradukunda join APR

When Isonga dropped to second division league, Iradukunda was re-signed by APR in June 2014 under coach Vincent Mashami where he spent two years. He played same big competitions including Caf Champions League, Cecafa Kagame Cup, Azam Rwanda Premier, and Peace Cup.

In 2016, he signed for Bugesera on a one-year contract before moving to Police but after one year the club released him with other five players.

In September last year, he signed for Mukura on a two-year contract and he was a part of the team that reached the playoffs of the CAF Confederation Cup.

Iradukunda, who signed from Police as a free agent, has scored twice and provided four assists in seven league games.

National team

The Mukura forward is one of few players who have grown from one national set-up to another, from U17, U20 to U23 and finally to the senior team. He earned his first national team call-up for the U-17 team in 2012.

Iradukunda received his maiden senior call-up in September 2014 by Stephen Constantine.

He acknowledges the support of many people like Michel Niyonsaba, who is coach of JS Academy, Aloys Kanamugire and Richard Tardy, the former Rwanda U-17 coach, as well as coaches Yves Rwasamanzi (Isonga), Francis Haringingo (Mukura) and Vincent Mashami (APR FC).

Future plans

Iradukunda says he is happy at Mukura and willing to serve the team that has given him more than what he ever dreamt of in life as a footballer. Yet he’s ambitious and would jump on any opportunity that offers him professional football, preferably in Europe.

He thinks Mukura are ready to win the league.

He said, “We are 90% favourites to win the league title. We still have second round games to play in which we only need to give our best than we did in first round so that we can win the title.”

“We have been more consistent this season which is why our target is not to drop points and I think together with my teammates and staff we are going to make it,” added former APR and Isonga forward.

“We did well in the league but we dropped important points against Police and Musanze which cost us but in training we are preparing for the second round well and I hope we will go for the first game (against Sunrise in Nyagatare) with strong character and mentality of winning,” he noted.

He added, “We have been a winning team this season and I am confident we can maintain our form.  We want to win the title. We need to forget about the first round of the league and try to come back to winning many games.”

“We have not done well in the last games of the first round because of tiredness and now we want to turn things around,” he added.

Mukura is holders of the Peace Cup after ending a 28-year trophy drought with Peace Cup title in August after beating Rayon Sports in the final with penalty shootout.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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