The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: To the 'Goalkeepers' - the Cricket Model Can Save Rwanda's Sports

column

What is true is that only a handful of Rwanda's sports federations can command this kind of luring power and interest of football, swallowing up the bulk of government's sports subsides and grants.

I have long heard tales of cricket not being a priority and a story is told of how the Rwanda Cricket Association approached the Ministry of Sports for funding for the national team and were brushed off, telling them that the available funds were to facilitate Rayon Sports' travel.

For all the talk in this country of football academies, it hasn't really ever worked. Let's be honest.

How has a sport like cricket with mega individual investments and producing local talent from an early age, providing youngsters with opportunities to represent their nation upstaged the over pampered football in attracting raw talent?

The biggest problem for Rwanda's sports has been a quick fix. You can't build a strong house on a weak foundation. Let's not be fooled into thinking that we can achieve success without a strong base upon which this success must be founded.

At the advent of cricket in Rwanda in 2000, only a few Rwandans from Uganda and the Indian community, played the game.

At the initiation of the national cricket team in 2004, there were not more than four Africans on the national team.

It has been a long and tough journey for the game of cricket in Rwanda, to produce players from the schools system under the Schools Development Progammes and the results are amazing.

There are regional coaches and a national development manager is being recruited come 2013.

So going by the results in cricket, given the impending if not immediate lack of success in football, it makes great sense to copy the cricket association's model.

Like it or not, the gentleman's game has achieved where all sports federations have failed. Who takes the blame? National coaches-why? Here is the reason.

Concentrating on quick fixes, ignoring the fact that we have to fix our technical part of every sports discipline has been our greatest failure.

Focusing on schools development progammes should be emphasized. Backed by thousands of dollars in Fifa grants and government's support, the football federation has failed to take the game to schools.

Also, each team participating in the national league should be tasked to have a junior side competing in the feeder junior national league.

This is very important. The focus isn't there, the energy is there, and all the federations need is to set targets which all clubs should to work towards. What Rwanda's sports now needs is an overhaul, start from zero.

What we all love to see are basketball, football or volleyball club field players groomed at grounds near us, players who have a link with the supporters. It may take ten years but the results will eventually come.

On many occasions in the previous world or continental qualifiers, we have always missed out on qualifications without a clear reason. Many will see it as being unlucky, others will point to poor preparations, yet others will say it's Juju.

Our problem has always been last-minute preparations which cricket disregarded over ten years ago and the results are there to see.

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