The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: We Owe a Lot to Kagame - Cecafa Chief

The Confederation of East and Central African Football Associations [Cecafa] has commended the role played by Rwanda Patriotic Front [RPF] in developing regional football, reserving special praise for the party chairman, President Paul Kagame.

Speaking to The New Times from Kampala, Uganda, recently, Cecafa Secretary General, Nicholas Musonye, said the regional football body was grateful for Kagame's support over the years.

He pointed out the President's annual sponsorship of the Cecafa/Kagame Club Championship, which the President bankrolls to the tune of US$75,000 in prizes and organisation.

"His Excellency Paul Kagame has been with us all through. He is a real sportsman," Musonye said.

The comments came just days ahead of the RPF's Silver Jubilee celebrations - due on December 20.

The party is also credited for creating APR football club during the 1990-94 liberation campaign, with the team later evolving into one of the biggest clubs on the regional scene.

The post-Genocide administration is also praised for promoting football in general, resulting in the country's maiden qualification to the African Nations Cup finals - in 2004 in Tunisia. Also, the country's U-17 side made history last year when it featured in the FIFA World Cup finals in Mexico.

Musonye also commended Kagame for his leadership style. "Nobody can doubt Kagame and RPF's leadership. They have demonstrated results-based leadership over the years. The results speak for themselves."

"For us, in Cecafa and, me in particular, we congratulate President Kagame for what he has done for Rwanda and the region at large. We join him and the RPF in celebrating this anniversary," he noted.

He added, "His kind of leadership is what we need in Africa to keep things in order and stay in the direction that enables people to meet their legitimate aspirations."

Established in 1987 by Rwandan refugees, RPF is widely credited for successfully pursuing an all-inclusive doctrine, promoting unity and reconciliation among Rwandans, a culture of self-reliance and dignity, and for firmly putting the country on the road to a middle-income economy.

Kagame, known for his strong support of Uganda's SC Villa during the days he lived in Uganda prior to the liberation war that ousted a fascist regime in Rwanda, became the first sponsor of the annual Cecafa club competition in 2002.

Since then, he has never failed to honour his commitments.

In August, the President said he would wish to see that sponsorship outlive his presidency.

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