Rwanda: Video - the Hoops Rwanda - Moise Mutokambali On His Team's Maiden League Title, Regional Endeavours

27 November 2020
interview

The Hoops Rwanda made history last month when they clinched the 2019/20 title of the BK women's basketball national league - the club's maiden championship.

Thanks to the milestone, they are now poised to represent the country in next year's Fiba Africa Zone V Championship that feature the region's elite basketball clubs.

This week, Moise Mutokambali, the team's head coach, sat down with Weekend Sport's Damas Sikubwabo where he talked about the trophy-winning season, and preparations to rub shoulders with the best in the region.

Excerpts:

After many failed attempts and coming so close in the 2018/19 season, the Hoops Rwanda finally lifted their first league title last month. Is it something you expected?

It was not surprising. After losing last year's playoffs finals to APR, we came into the 2019/20 season very determined to win the championship. It was very difficult and the final against IPRC Huye was close, but in the end we achieved what we had set out to achieve.

It had been a long time coming, almost seven years of building the team and patience, getting to the point where we win the league title is a milestone everyone at the club is proud of.

What does it mean for your team to represent Rwanda in the regional Zone V competition?

It is a great honour, and we look forward to our debut on the regional scene. Our mission in the competition will mainly have two goals; to put up a great performance and make the country proud, and to show that there is talent in women's basketball in Rwanda.

Most clubs in domestic basketball are affiliated to different institutions, which is not the case for The Hoops Rwanda. Where does your club get financial means to sustain the team?

The founders - me, Eric Nsabimana and Patrick Habiyambere - are the club's source of financial means. We are all very passionate about the game, and want to empower women through basketball.

Occasionally, we also get some support from external partners, and that helps to run the club.

How do you usually do your scouting for players?

Our philosophy - and probably because of our limited resources - is to scout and work with young talents. We get most of the players from secondary schools, train them and turn into elite players who can compete at the highest level.

We closely work with parents of the players to raise the players. Once we are impressed by a player during the national inter-school championships, we approach them and their parents, and try to get them a school that could enable them to excel academically and in basketball.

Lycée de Kigali has been one of the key schools that we have been working with on that front, and it has really paid dividends for both the club and the school.

As the head coach and one of the club's founders, where do you hope to see The Hoops Rwanda in 10 years?

We have been around since 2013, and seven years later we are Rwandan champions. This is encouraging. In the next 10 years, we want to be regular competitors at the African Women's Club Championship, not just the regional showpiece.

We want to turn The Hoops Rwanda into an engine of the women's national basketball team, and we are confident it will happen. When we start featuring in the African club championship, it will be easier for Rwanda to also qualify for the nations championships - Women's Afrobasket.

The more successful we get, I believe we will start attracting sponsors and partner brands. In the long-term, our goal is to establish a basketball academy for girls.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

Follow https://twitter.com/NkotanyiDamas

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