President Paul Kagame receives a trophy from the sports fraternity yesterday. (Photo J Mbanda)
KIGALI – PRESIDENT Paul Kagame, yesterday, pledged more support for sports development, but urged the sports fraternity to prove they deserve to be supported by excelling at all levels.
The President made the pledge during a function to honour him organized by the sports fraternity for his role in elevating sports in the last seven years of his mandate.
Kagame told a fully-packed Petit Stade Amahoro that supporting sports is among his key responsibilities as President, adding that the policy would continue.
The President urged the various sports organizations in the country, to train athletes capable of participating in international tournaments, rather than having sports officials travelling abroad to attend competitions with no athletes. He cited the past Olympic games where officials outnumbered athletes.
Kagame told the sports fraternity that he would like to see a strong Rwandan squad participate and win medals at this year’s Commonwealth Games due in New Delhi, India from October 3-14.
The President added that it is possible to become champions, if young children are nurtured and given the necessary support that affords them a firm foundation that will, in the end, bring pride to the nation.
Kagame pointed out that the country had made significant strides, and that with commitment, confidence, determination and pride, nothing could prevent Rwandans from becoming champions.
He added that he was ready to give whatever it takes to elevate sports in the country but urged the sports fraternity to prove their worth.
Responding to an earlier request raised by the Olympic Committee chairman, Dr Charles Rudakubana, Kagame said that the government will look for resources to construct other modern gymnasiums.
The ceremony attracted top government officials, various sports organizations and leading athletes. It also featured the screening of a sports documentary about what has been achieved in the last seven years. The audience was treated to football juggling, basketball slam dunks, karate, comedy, acrobatics and a musical performance by lead local singer Tom Close.
Under Kagame’s seven-year mandate, Rwandan sports has registered impressive success including, the maiden appearance at the 2004 Tunis Africa Cup of nations.
The President’s support saw APR win their first Kagame Cup title in Kigali in 2004 before going to win the 2007 and 2010 editions respectively.
Rwanda successfully hosted the 2009 Africa Youth championship, a feat that convinced the Confederation of African Football (CAF), to select the country as host for next year’s U-17 Africa tournament.
Kagame has been a major sponsor of the Confederation of Central, East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa) club championship since 2002. He contributes $60,000 every year as prize money.