25 November 2012

Rwanda: With Clubs in Slumberland, Amavubi's Success Still At Crossroads


When national football team coach, Milutin "Micho" Sredojevic recalled Mwemere Girinshuti from his indeterminate state, some may have forgotten that the left back was even still playing in the local league, despite the fact he is one of Rwanda's most gifted players in his position.

This kind of spending, isolation and dumping of players by our local giant clubs only fuels talk of "there is only one team (APR)" capable of winning the national title year in and year out.

In 2007 APR fired almost the entire first team with a view of giving chance to Rwanda's youngsters.

However they have since failed on this promise, currently only three players; JC Ndoli, Jean Baptiste Mugiraneza and Haruna Niyonzima now at Yanga hold down regular team places.

And the club has not done any better by poaching talent from local rival clubs only to dump them on the reserve bench or discard them seasons later.

APR has spent vast sums of money on average players who haven't helped the club's cause.

The club's recruitment leaves a lot to be desired. I have seen several players come and go from the military club and very few can be remembered for their on-field contribution.

What is true, is that only the military side can command this kind of spending power, pilling up talent without knowing what to do with it.

The club's scouting network which has been one of the main club's undoing should be transparent to avoid big spending on useless players.

A case in point is SC Kiyovu's Eric Serugaba; the striker had been tipped to be the next Jimmy Gatete following his exploits with Etincelles during the 2006/7 season.

After his big money move to APR, Serugaba didn't get enough games at the military side, a factor that led to him to disappear from the radar.

The striker was mishandled at APR, a thing that also affected the national team as it had to depend on old timers.

The same fate also befell, Arafat Serugendo, Hegman Ngoma and Vianney Rukundo. For the national team to be successful there should be comparisons with the big clubs.

World and European champions Spain's squad contains seven players from Barcelona, and their dominance has regularly been attributed to the Catalan's success.

Amavubi Stars national league has been dominated by Military side APR since 1995. Today there is no single local or regional trophy on which APR's name is not inscribed overlapping Rayon Sport in the process but both teams have depended on foreign players for success.

Clubs were mandated to have juniors' teams, but few have adhered to this. And those that don't give the young players chances to shine.

A great team isn't built overnight. It's a gradual process, and if APR is to join the elite class, I believe their success will spill over to the national team.

Youth development is on the lips of every football administrator, backed by thousands of dollars in Fifa grants and it has become a perquisite to take over football offices across the globe.

Rwandan football in the last years has not fared very well developing young talent and this mess solely rests with the clubs.

The local clubs want short term results not looking to the future and they have failed to explore the golden talents that lay to waste in the country. This has also affected the national team's set up thus witnessing lukewarm performances.

Football, despite being the world and Africa's most loved and popular sport is faced with classic irony about its hindered development caused especially by those who have the authority to manage it. In most African countries, the so called federations set up to support the sport unfortunately usually turn out to be driven by personal interests of the individuals who run them.

Available funds in most cases are not spent on the critical areas that would drive success especially supporting those who are involved in developing young talent through academies but rather on other things that may not really benefit the nation.

Even the selection of the players to be in the national teams is usually biased by influential decision makers which totally destroys the game and hinders success at a continental and global level.

The most successful football nations on the continent are those that have developed talent at the lower teen youth level (ages 10 to 16) like Egypt, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Ghana and Tunisia.

The West African nations have survived on the financial support of their player trades in Europe to maintain good academies and junior sides of major league clubs.

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