The New Times (Kigali)

2 December 2012

Rwanda: We Can Turn Rwanda Into an Active and Winning Nation

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After reviewing the enablers needed in turning the country into an active nation, we will put much emphasis on what is needed to achieve a winning nation.

The Ministry of Sports should endeavor to increase international sport successes by supporting participation at all levels of competition.

Sports achievers have become known the world over, giving the country they represent an international visibility and reputation not attained in other areas of their social, political or economic life.

Personal pride in the achievements of a national sporting team is a powerful incentive towards uniting the people of a country. The use of the flag and national anthem at international matches instills pride and loyalty.

The Ministry of Sports should hence forth use sport as a medium to contribute to national unity, fostering a Rwandan identity and promoting a common sense of belonging.

Government acknowledges that sport is an important factor in building bridges across boundaries created by race, gender, language, religion, color, creed, ability and disability. By facilitating improved group relations and mutual understanding, sport promotes national reconciliation.

In order to achieve this outcome, key focus areas that will assist in accomplishing a winning nation include; talent identification and development, scientific support services, international competitions, national sporting events and national emblem and colors.

In talent identification and development, a pro-active approach to identify, select and develop talent is an absolute pre-requisite if Rwandan sport is to progress.

A targeted talent identification process will enable the identification of athletes from disadvantaged backgrounds who might otherwise not be found and as such assist with the transformation of the country's sport.

Talent development follows the talent identification and selection process and requires the provision of adequate coaching, facilities, competition and other relevant support to enable identified athletes the opportunity to progress optimally.

This is the responsibility of the Ministry of Sports, Rwanda Olympic Committee and national federations and once taken into consideration, the country can be able to have talent identification detections guidelines, an integrated national tracking system and talent identification at national and provincial games.

In scientific support services, excellence in high performance sport requires an evidence-based, holistic sports science and athlete support system.

This can be achieved if we support national federations in the provision of sports science services to assist in the development of talented athletes.

It is also vital that we provide capacity building and professional development programmes for coaches.

Establishing norms and standards for accreditation of scientific and medical support personnel in collaboration with their relevant professional bodies and supporting applied sport science research is also of much help.

If well coordinated by Rwanda Olympic Committee, the sports ministry and tertiary institutions, the country can be able to have a coordinating body for sports science, a national set of sports science guidelines, an accredited sports science training programmes.

And also dissemination of technical material to practitioners around the country, allowing for an interchange of ideas and a national applied sports research plan.

In case of national sporting events, strong domestic competition is important for developing young talented athletes aspiring to be selected for national teams, as well as providing competition opportunities for international athletes outside their international calendars.

If the Ministry of Sports, local federations and the Olympic committee host annual national championships and comply with the zonal participation requirements, then we can have well coordinated annual national championships as well as national and regional junior championships.

For international competitions, regular participation is, along with coaching, probably the most important ingredient contributing to international sporting success.

The Sports Ministry is aware that some federations neglect the development of their sport and focus only on international competitions.

National federations should plan their national programme in synchrony with their international competition. As a country it is important that we give recognition to the performances of our athletes.

Funding the participation of Rwandan athletes in Olympic Games approved international competitions is needed.

Recognizing the participation of Rwandan athletes in approved sector related international games such as school, student and military games is also needed.

The specific sector will be responsible for all arrangements related to Rwanda's participation in such games in close cooperation with the Rwanda Olympic Committee.

We should also give recognition and rewards to our athletes who have excelled in the international sporting arena.

If responsible bodies; ministry of sports, the Olympic committee and national federations commit themselves to this task, the we should have an approved international sports calendar, sports-specific long term athlete development plan and a sports awards policy.

For national emblem and colors, Rwandan sport will be able to contribute to nation building if all our national teams participate with the same emblem and colors.

We can decide to recognise the Gorilla for instance as the only national emblem for sports people representing Rwanda at international events. It must be displayed on the left hand side of the chest of the "battle gear" of all NFs.

We should also institute a policy regulating the use of the national emblem and ensure that only Rwandans are allowed to represent the country as athletes and to wear the national emblem and official colors in international competitions.

This should be a responsibility of the Ministry of Sports, the National Olympic Committee and individual sports federations.

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