Rwandan international and APR basketball player, Pascal ‘Kaceka’ Niyonkuru, says that he follows tight training routines to stay fit despite the fact that there are currently no games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The BK Basketball National League, and all other leagues in the country, have been suspended since mid-March as one of the government’s social distancing measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Following last week’s announcement that no sports activity is allowed before September, an extraordinary general assembly of the Rwanda Basketball Federation (Ferwaba) is scheduled to convene on Sunday, May 17, where they discuss ways of concluding the 2019/2020 season.
But, Niyonkuru says, regardless of the decision the general assembly will take – resuming the league in September or voiding the season, his individual training will continue until competitions are cleared to take place again.
Times Sport’s Damas Sikubwabo had a one-on-one with the star shooting guard who helped APR to a fourth-place finish last season, having also been the league’s highest scorer with a combined 477 points in the regular season and playoff games.
He acknowledges that home training is not as easy as training on the play-field, but it “does not stop me from having my three drills a day” and that helps to not only stay fit, but it is also vital for my general wellness.
“I start with push-ups, lift weights, and after I play basketball in the little space I have at home,” he said. “The coaches monitor us (players) and our fitness workouts on a regular basis.”
Niyonkuru (C), seen here during a past league game against Rwanda Energy Group at Amahoro Stadium, made his senior career with APR in 2013. File.
“Every day we have a coach’s plan of what to do and how to do it; whether it is push-ups, abdominal exercises or running. This has proved to help us stay at good fitness levels. If the league was to resume today, we would not struggle a lot.”
About hard work as the ingredient that propelled him to scoop the top-scorer’s award last season, Niyonkuru revealed that, “actually I had not set out to win – or even contest for – the award, what I wanted was to help my team to win the league title, which unfortunately did not happen.”
“By the time the league reached halfway, I had already realized it was hard to win the league. But, I kept giving the best of myself. That is how I ended up with the highest scorer’s award.”
Niyonkuru (L), seen here alongside Ali Kubwimana (C) and Aristide Mugabe in a national team photoshoot, made his international debut in 2017. File.
Niyonkuru, who made his international debut in 2017, is optimistic that once the Covid-19 is defeated, the players and teams will make up for the time lost and life gets back to normal.
“Obviously the pandemic has affected everyone and everything, not just sports. But I believe, once there is no Covid-19 threat anymore, life will be back to normal and we enjoy the games in a safe environment again.”
Niyonkuru started his senior club career with APR in 2013 and featured for the military side for three years before crossing to Espoir in 2015 shortly after the Nyamirambo-based side clinched the last of their four consecutive league titles since 2012.
He rejoined APR at the start of the 2018/2019 season.
Pascal Niyonkuru, 26, takes a free throw during the 2019 All-Star Game at Kigali Arena. Courtesy.Follow https://twitter.com/NkotanyiDamas