Rwanda banking on youth
© FIFA.com

Elected three months ago, the new President of the Rwandan Football Association (FERWAFA) Celestin Ntagungira visited FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter on Monday to discuss the state of the game in the African country.

“We spoke about what FIFA has done for Rwanda through the Goal projects, artificial pitches, new offices and the training academy,” Ntagungira told FIFA.com. “We also discussed new projects, such as the possibility of building a sports complex where the national teams can train.”

Ntagungira’s main concern is youth football, however, as he explained in setting out his objectives: “We want to promote the youth game throughout the country, the aim being to spot players and organise competitions for youngsters.”

At this moment in time, football’s played mainly in the towns and cities, but we want to take it to every corner of the country.
President of the Rwandan Football Association, Celestin Ntagungira


Acknowledging that there is much work to be done across all areas of Rwandan football, the nation’s new football chief had this to say: “I also want to work on the Association’s statutes, look at how the clubs are run, and set up a range of training programmes for coaches, referees and women’s football. We also need sponsors, which is another area we have to focus on, not to mention media coverage of our game.”

Returning to the core theme of youth football, Ntagungira pointed to Rwanda’s qualification for the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011 as an example of what can be achieved: “It was a huge success for the country. The backbone of that team came out of the academy set up by FIFA, and four or five of them have now broken into the national side. That’s why we are so appreciative of FIFA, and we want to continue in that direction.

“Using the development of youth football as a platform, we want to set up regional leagues, which didn’t exist before,” continued Ntagungira, taking a wider view. “At this moment in time, football’s played mainly in the towns and cities, but we want to take it to every corner of the country. Our goal is to have as many people playing the game as possible and to help our national teams develop.”  

Bringing the interview to a close, the head of Rwandan football pointed to the role FIFA can play in making his project a success: “FIFA provides us with financial support, but what’s really essential is the technical assistance and youth training they give us. That’s the way for us to make long-term progress.”