The New Times (Kigali)

24 December 2012

Rwanda: APR's Recruitment Policy ?the Case of the Chicken and the Safari Ants

column

Hens or cocks can be used to eradicate safari ants, it's a biological method where the domestic birds eat the safari ants physically.

To humans, it's an act of bravery-those who have ever been stung by safari ants know what I'm talking about.

When local football giants APR announced plans to overhaul their playing staff, they were taking a right step in the right direction. The announcement spelt doom for many non-citizens who were on, by local standards, lucrative contracts.

Mbuyu Twite, Kabange Twite, Didier Logba, Faty Papy, Dan Wagaluka, Habib Kavuma, Selemani Ndikumana, Johnson Bagoole, Alexis Da Avila, Diego Oliviera, Douglas Lopez and Lionel St Preux all had their contracts not renewed.

In a business sense, the club missed an opportunity to make money as they have always done. However, a decision had to be made concerning the local talent.

The military side has its blue print on Rwanda's sport summit but the combative and controversial signings have left a negative impact on the club's image, thus a damaging legacy on the development of the country's sports development.

With Maj. Gen Alex Kagame at the helm, the club has gambled on very many players in obsessive pursuit of success.

It is a sorry tale that a club with vast resources by local and regional standards has failed to break into continental set-up of most prominent sides.

Here I mean teams that are prominent in the Africa Champions League year in year out. The last time APR upset one of the big boys (teams) was in 2004.

To be on the same footing with Esperance, Al Ahly, Zamalek or TP Mazembe, Rwanda's most successful team on the continent must spend wisely when it comes to recruitment.

In 2007, APR fired almost the entire first team with a view to give chance to local youngsters. However, they have since failed on this promise, in the last few years only three players; Jean Claude Ndoli, Jean Baptista Mugiraneza and Haruna Niyonzima (now at Tanzania's Yanga) held down regular team places.

And the club has not done any better by poaching talent from local clubs only to let them rot in the reserves 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 policy leaves a lot to be desired. I have seen several players come and go from the military side and very few can be remembered for their on-field contribution.

In 2004, APR broke a fret by qualifying to the second round stage of the African Champions League after eliminating Egyptian side El Zamalek on a 6-4 goal aggregate.

Zamalek, champions of Africa a record five times, were packed with Egyptian stars well versed in the rigors of international football. But just what has gone wrong at APR?

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

For the club to show more ambition they would have to spend more money on good players and so it is imperative they gave the technical team time to succeed.

Despite their relatively modest size on the continental level, they have become an established regional side, with excellent links in the local community.

Successful campaigns primarily require prior attention to every detail and this, in turn, will also promote an image of the club that is acceptable to fans and will encourage more people to invest their time and money in the club.

Most local clubs want short term results, not looking to the future, and they have failed to explore the golden talents that lay to waste across the country.

This has also affected the national team's set up, thus witnessing lukewarm performances. Being able to attract regional stars weighs tones; Rwanda football has moved a step further, however, this has suffocated the development of local talent.

Clubs were mandated to have juniors' teams and APR adhered to it; however, is there any product of the academy in the senior team?

Like the brave domestic birds that feast on safari ants, APR made a right decision to give the chance to local talent.

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