The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Philosophy and Psychology Key to Sport Development

Recently I had a cordial conversation with one of the icons of Ugandan football at Sheraton hotel in Kampala and we both concluded that Rwanda boosts with many hot soccer talents but that have not been properly natured to realize their potential.

The existence of natural talents in Rwanda is also manifested by the fact that no other country in the region has been at a Fifa Youth World Cup.

Rwanda finished runners up at the Under 17 African championship in Kigali last year and qualified for the 2011 FIFA U- 17 World Cup in Mexico.

Besides, Rwanda has been at the African Nation's Cup more recently than any other country in the region and this suggests there is a good breath of football talent in the country of a 'thousand hills'.

However, the lack of consistency in national team performance reflects under development in youth ranks especially at grass root level. Though Rwanda was at the youth world cup in Mexico, there is no evidence of quick return to such a big event soon.

This is simply because people and clubs have been reliant on promotion of foreign imports to win trophies and perhaps attain international recognition.

The ministry of Sports and Culture has previously made no stride to introduce and install policies that protect and promote youth players. Youth sports and particularly football is a practical issue and not theoretical.

In Rwanda, people tend to discuss soccer challenges in bars and restaurants and not on the pitch. In football like any other sports, many professional mistakes are corrected at an early age to ensure quality and professionalism.

For example there is a lot of philosophy and psychology involved in modern football. These items need to be transmitted early in life for one to become a good sportsman.

The ministry through proper collaboration with the football authorities in the country needs to make sure youth sports' coaching is done at the optimum environment because it is the basis of greater heights to be attained in future.

One of the key aspects missing in Rwandan football and sport in general is the philosophical and psychological part. There are so many coaches and instructors in various sports disciplines but with lack of proper communication skills and systems.

Education is a key factor in youth development. Great players like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo among others were raised through professional academies.

Philosophy and psychology are key items to attain professionalism in sports. Without these two aspects, one is hardly likely to attain professionalism.

Taking an example of football coaching, philosophy and psychology forms the pillar of a good football coach. The ability to study and change tactics of the game is built on psychology and philosophy.

Talent in coaching career is graded on these two key items. Technical and tactical aspects of coaching come as supplements. This means a coach without resolute philosophy and psychology of the game will hardly achieve success.

This is what we experience in Rwanda. Many coaches involved in youth development activities have played football locally. They use knowledge acquired in their past soccer playing career to ride modern football.

This should not be the case in a country with a clear path to development. There is high need to create a continuous learning system amongst coaches and instructors involved in youth development if the country is to achieve greater heights.

The government of Rwanda has been very supportive and passionate in sports but great values will be attained if there is proper transmission of real values of the game especially to younger people.

We judge psychology and philosophy as key developments in the sport, then talent is all about natural skill and brilliance or imaginative power from an individual.

Mistakes or indiscipline normally arise from poor psychology and philosophy of a sportsman. Lack of mind is very detrimental in sports development.

In football we all admire professionals and professional football is graded as the highest achievement in a player's career. It is the highest level any footballer can attain. Football without professional ranks is like having primary education success but without secondary or University education.

Today it is very difficult to rise into professional ranks without these great values. A lot has to be accompanied with talent to succeed at professional ranks. Perhaps this is why we have had many failures at professional ranks.

The likes of Haruna Niyonzima and Jean Baptiste Mugiraneza have been very impressive with national team duties and playing well even in AFCON qualifiers but have failed professional trials in France and Germany.

Though we have previously reasoned their failure from a physical aspect but mind of the game could be behind their limited success.

Younger people should be highly equipped with adequate knowledge of the sport early in life if we are to get good results from them.

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