The national sitting volleyball teams, men and women, have started early preparations as the country gears up for the 2019 ParaVolley African Championships, scheduled for September 15-17 in Kigali.
According to Jean Maria Nsengiyumva, head coach of the women’s team – who are the reigning African champions, his side will be training once a week, on Wednesdays, before embarking on intensive training in August.
Nsengiyumva, formerly the head coach of Kigali Volleyball Club, has summoned a provisional 18-member squad to start training and, he says, the target is to retain the title and a ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.
“The ultimate target is to play Paralympic Games again, and we are well-aware that achieving it will require us to win the (African championships) title in Kigali,” he told Times Sport on Thursday.
“The challenge is enormous, but we will be ready for it.”
At the 2016 Rio Paralympics, Rwanda was the first African team to qualify and feature in the women’s sitting volleyball event, with their men counterparts having made their debut at the 2012 London Games.
Speaking to this publication in a separate interview, Celestin Nzeyimana, the Secretary General of Africa ParaVolley Committee, said that so far only four countries have confirmed their participation in the three-day competition, but he was optimistic that the number will rise.
The confirmed four countries are; Egypt, Kenya and South Africa and hosts Rwanda, while the awaited confirmations include Morocco, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique.
This year marks the third time Rwanda will be hosting the continental showpiece in the last five years after 2015 and 2017.
In the meantime, Eric Gakwaya is in charge of the men’s team, and has also named a provisional 16-man squad to start training Wednesday next week.
Claudine Bazubagira, Yvonne Imanishimwe, Carine Kwizera, Jeanine Mukamanzi, Liliane Mukobwankawe, Alice Musabyemariya, Nikuze Zaninka, Sandrine Nyirambarushimana, Solange Nyiraneza, Agnès Nyiranshimiyimana and Claudine Murebwayire
Others are; Clementine Umutoni, Hosiana Mulisa, Faina Niyoyita, Chantal Mutuyimana, Louise Mugirwanake, Pacifique Kayitesi and Alice Mukamurenzi.
Jean-Baptiste Ndayisaba, Callixte Twagirayezu, Fidèle Gatete, Théogène Hategekimana, Fulgence Hagenimana, Baptiste Gahamanyi, Patrick Imanirutabyose, Léandre Muhawenimana, Jean Semana, Claude Ndahiro, Innocent Niyitegeka, Baptiste Murema, Jean Paul Ntambara, Emile Cadet Vuningabo, Vitus Rutagengwa, Bosco Ngizwenimana and Callixte Nzeyimana.