Rwanda: Nduwayezu on Setting Up a Sports Academy Amidst a Pandemic

Growing up in the early 2000s, Bruno Nduwayezu has always enjoyed watching sports on TV, especially athletics, even though they were not popular games at the time.

Sports has always been an unconditional passion for him.

"I was lucky to join a primary school that favored sports. They would equip us with all sports kits. I loved sports to the extent that I would go back home, after class, while running and jumping," Nduwayezu narrates.

"For me sport is life, there are many reasons which make me love sports. Sports makes me healthy and fit but I also earn money," He adds.

The 27-year-old's love for sports kept growing until he decided to pursue sports studies at University of Rwanda's College of Education, Remera Campus.

"When I joined university, my parents wanted me to study sciences but I convinced them that sports was my ideal dream career," he said.

During his time at University, Nduwayezu would take time to watch athletes training at Amahoro National Stadium.

It was after his studies that he ventured into sports to find a way to make a living out of the skills he acquired at University to fulfil his dream of being self-employed and create jobs for youth.

In 2014, the then second year student started volunteering as a sports teacher at Saint Paul International School, a school which is close to the campus until he was hired on a permanent basis.

He spent three years at the school and is now a sports teacher at Don Bosco secondary school in Kicukiro district, a job he now combines with providing personal fitness training to people in need, a service he introduced after he got the opportunity to specialize in body fitness training last year.

"In the middle of 2020 after the covid_19 pandemic, many needed to deal with psychological issues and physical health problems. I decided to explore alternative fitness exercises not only as a solution to their fitness but also as a way of making money," the trainer told Times Sport.

Nduwayezu does not limit himself when it comes to sports.

Besides being a sports teacher and a fitness trainer, he is a basketball referee who is certified by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).

He has officiated at different competitions including the national Basketball league (since 2018) basketball 3*3 junior league in 2019 and NBA junior league in 2019.

Setting up a sports Academy

In November 2020, Nduwayezu set up 'Imenarugamba Athletics Academy' where he started with six talented young athletes.

The Academy has grown to 15 children of whom eight are girls and seven boys. They are trained in different disciplines like jumping and Athletics.

Nduwayezu says he likes to train passionate young athletes and remains committed to supporting them so that they can grow their talents in athletics.

"My goal is to improve their level and winning mentality so they can become champions at international competitions like the Olympics games. I want to see them grow and make a living out of their talents," He says.

Happiness Mpinganzima, one of the young athletes growing their talents under Nduwayezu's mentorship, told Times Sport that she started enjoying sports while growing up and, under the academy, she knows how important sport is to human life.

"It's the best part of the day for me because sport is something worth enjoying. With the exercise I do during the training, I feel relaxed and healthy not only that but also our coach teaches us to be well-disciplined among others,' the 15-year-old said.

Steven Irankunda, a senior five student at Bosco, finds her passion in sports as a career which he believes can not only play a role in keeping people healthy but also something that can change your life.

"I always enjoy doing sports after I finish my classes, despite keeping myself relaxed, I've heard of many people who earn through sports and they do it as their daily job. I want to do the same," Irankunda said.

Like other startups, Nduwayezu still faces different challenges in his journey and his main challenge is related to mindset, especially parents who do not allow their children to join sports sessions despite the fact that there remains untapped potential in sport.

"I advise parents to support their children's talents as they never know what he/she will become in future," says the athletics coach.

In the future, he wants to bring in more talented children to his academy to help them nurture their talents until they become products ready to compete at international competitions.

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