Niyogisubizo's journey to becoming a force in Rwandan volleyball

Samuel Niyogisubizo is one of the best right-attackers in Rwanda’s volleyball domain.

Gifted with speed and prowess to take on heavy shots from opponents, the 25-year-old who features for UTB has proven himself a hot prospect in the game – and seems to only get better.

 

He was named in the team of the year in the 2018/2019 season after helping his team finish in third in the national league, in addition to clinching the accolade of the Most Valuable Player (MVP) as UTB lifted the title of the preseason tournament.

 

By picking interest in volleyball, Niyogisubizo wanted to be like former Rwanda international Eric ‘Machine’ Nsabimana. Globally, his volleyball inspiration is Cuban Wilfredo Leon Venero.

 

“Nsabimana inspired generations, I am one of those who grew up wanting to be like him,” Niyogisubizo told Times Sport in an exclusive interview this week.

Early days

Commonly known as Tyson, hard-hitting spiker Niyogisubizo identified himself more with football in his earlier days and even represented his primary school – Rurenge Protesters – in youth championships.

He switched to volleyball when he joined GS Nyakarambi for secondary school after meeting Eugene Ntwali, a youth coach and scout at the time, who noticed his talent and advised him that he stood a better chance in volleyball.

“It is probably the best I have ever received to date, I never looked back since switching from football to volleyball.”

After three years of hard work and competing in the national inter-schools championships, Niyogisubizo landed his first contract with Kigali Volleyball Club (KVC), joining the former champions on a two-year deal.

Senior career

He was part of the KVC team that clinched the men’s volleyball title at the 7th EALASCA (East African Local Authorities, Sports and Culture Associations) Games title, in 2015, after beating Nairobi in a four-set (3-1) thriller in the final. Kigali hosted the games.

After serving out his two-year contract with KVC at the end of the 2014/15 season, Niyogisubizo was signed by Kirehe Volleyball Club and inspired the Kirehe-based outfit to a fourth position in the league before winning the post-season Carre d’As tournament.

The club also stunned then newcomers UTB in straight sets to win the 2017 edition of the annual Kayumba Volleyball Memorial Tournament in Huye District, Southern Province.

Since 2018, the volleyball star plays for UTB and helped them a third position in the league last season. So far into the coronavirus-hit 2019/20 campaign, the Kicukiro-based side have clinched three titles; the preseason tournament, the inaugural Gisaka Open and the Heroes Cup that they retained for a record third consecutive time in February.

“I love it here, I have been improving and enjoying my game since joining UTB and I believe the best is yet to come. One of my dreams is to win the league title with the club.”

International volleyball

Niyogisubizo has previously represented the country in international competitions with the youth and junior national teams, but he is yet to feature for the senior team.

He was part of the U-19 team that competed at the 2013 World Youth Championships staged in the Mexican cities of Tijuana and Mexicali.

“More than anything else, I want to play international volleyball again. I would be a fulfilled player if I could help my country to qualify for the world championships.”

At individual level, Niyogisubizo says, his ultimate target is to play professional volleyball in a more advanced league.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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