construction works on the proposed Ngoma Stadium are 90 per cent complete and the facility is expected to be completed by January 2020, Ngoma District officials have said.
The facility is among three artificial turf stadia being constructed in Eastern Province, with the two in Nyagatare and Bugesera; all of them part of President Paul Kagame’s pledge to the people of the three districts to bring sports facilities closer to them.
Nyagatare and Bugesera, however, could not readily specify the status of the works by press time Friday.
The stadiums, which have a capacity of 3,500 seats, and cost of $9 million each, are being built by China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), a Chinese construction company that funded the projects on loans that will be paid back by the districts in a period of five years.
With two of the arenas already in use by two Rwanda Premier League teams; Bugesera FC at Bugesera Stadium and Sunrise FC at Nyagatare Stadium, officials say the remaining works on the stadiums are in ‘final touch’ phase. There will also be constructed basketball and volleyball courts as well as playgrounds for tennis and handball.
Guy Rurangayire, Director of Sports at the Ministry for Sports, says that the football pitches were completed first in order to host league matches this season, and the remaining works are in advanced stages.
“Football pitches were completed first. The remaining works cannot prevent a match from taking place,” he told Saturday Sport in an interview this week.
The Mayor of Ngoma District, Aphrodis Nambaje, said they have started having fun from the stadium under construction since last year.
“On Liberation Day, it was at the stadium that the celebrations were held, the residents played a brilliant game, and weeks later, teams kept playing there. Etoile de l’Est, as a home team, trains on that ground.
They also host different teams; recently they hosted Rayon Sports, and APR will be here this Saturday. No doubt many more will follow,” he explained.
Etoile de l’Est, the Ngoma-based side that have been in the second division for many years, missed a chance to earn promotion to the topflight league last season after losing to Heroes in semi-finals of the playoffs.
“We are committed, we want to be in the first division next season,” Mayor Nambaje emphasised.
Residents ooze optimism
“This stadium will greatly contribute to talent development and sports promotion in Ngoma,” said Cyriaque Nsengayire, a resident from Mahango Cell, Kibungo Sector.
Cyprien Musabirema, hailing from Kinunga Cell, Remera Sector in Ngoma, a supporter for APR FC in Rwanda and Chelsea FC in England, said: “We love Etoile de l’Est despite them having failed to break into the first division.”
He added: “We will always be present at the new stadium,” he pledged, “The pitch where our club used to host matches did not meet the standards. We hope this modern facility will inspire good results.”
Emmanuel Sibomana, a resident in the neighbouring Kirehe District, is an avid football enthusiast. He said: “The stadium is something to celebrate. Of course, businesses will also gain a lot once the facility is fully operational.”
“As a motorcycles mechanic, the work for me will also certainly increase.”
Isaie Iryivuze, 67, a retired teacher and chairperson of Remera Sector council, said he normally does not follow football elsewhere, but he is always behind their team.
Believing that the stadium is bringing new hope, Iryivuze said: “Etoile de l’Est used to be a strong team that beat top clubs in Rwanda. With the new stadium, we must strive to go back where we once belonged.”
“We hope that the facilities will bring young talents to light, and instill winning spirit in them.”
Local Government Minister, Anastase Shyaka, who visited the Ngoma Stadium on Wednesday, said that the facilities show “the vision of our country.”
“This shows that the image of development in Rwanda is not just seen in Kigali City. Modern infrastructure (as this one) can also be found in rural areas; in districts and provinces across the country,” said the Minister.
“It also proves that the development of the country that we always talk about is not just in words and figures. It is real.”