The New Times (Kigali)

28 January 2013

Rwanda: Even Elders Aren't Always Right!

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In African tradition it's considered bad manners to talk back to elders, however, I consider it to be despotic and suffocation of the freedom of speech and expression.

Last week, my former boss and Rwanda's seasoned journalist, Arthur Asiimwe, reasoned that Rwanda has no football (soccer) talent.

He suggested that the country should look into focusing on another sports discipline. In this free world it's his opinion.

However I differ from my elder. In 2004, a bunch of unknown footballers made history as Rwanda made her maiden appearance at the African Nation's cup in Tunisia.

Players like Jimmy Gatete, Olivier Karekezi, and Jimmy Mulisa enjoyed a heroes' welcome on their return to a grateful nation. So where did this caliber of players appear from?

It is a fact that Rwanda is a den for great talents and the likes of Gatete, Haruna Niyonzima, Olivier Karekezi, Desire Mbonabucya, Mulisa, Abdul Sibomana, are just but a sample. However, their success and achievements are as a result of self determination and individual efforts.

Many will point to the fact that, the team was mainly made up of the so-called mercenaries.

At the tournament they lost their opening match 2-1 to hosts, Tunisia before winning their first ever point in the competition after a 1-1 draw against Guinea.

Against all odds, the team went on to beat DR Congo in their final match by 1-0, but it wasn't enough as elsewhere in the group, Guinea and Tunisia drew, meaning both teams progressed to the quarter finals and Rwanda were eliminated.

Gatete, Karekezi, Henri Munyaneza, Elias Ntaganda, Desire Mbonabucya, Eric Nshimiyimana, Mulisa, Hamad Ndikumana and Sibomana were the core of the team.

However, much of the team disappeared in oblivion immediately after 2004, some of the players have disappeared without trace and the team's fortunes have been mixed since.

The success of 2004 was not taken as the stepping stone.

Rwanda may not be one of the powerhouses of African football, but on many occasions they have proved more than capable against some of the continent's top teams as Nigeria and Ghana can testify.

The chance of 2004 was not built on; many chances have passed.

The team wasn't followed up to ensure continuity.

What our football needs is an effective talent scouting structure to consistently build a winning team? Successful practices are good to learn from. Uganda with all its sports administration deficits, their production line has never ceased.

Structures are there from the grass roots, The Coca Cole Secondary Schools Tournament, the Cricket Week and the Rugby Schools Gala and the Kampala Kids League are some of the avenues that our football administrators can learn from.

All Short term results not looking to the future should be discouraged if Rwanda's football is to move to greater heights and this can only be achieved with giving chance to young local players.

Rwandan soccer has struggled to bridge the gap left by a lost generation, with young players now coming through to fill the void, this group should be given the chance to shine in the national colours.

Closer to home thanks to television broadcasting, we all glue to our seats when Fc Barcelona is playing, we fancy the way the team plays.

FC Barcelona embarked on its road to success almost forty years ago and its now when they are reaping. So if our football administrators sow the seeds now it may be generations to come that will reap from their sweat.

Rwanda has a pool of talent all that is needed is to fish it from the valleys and hill tops; this is the time to seize the chance.

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