Rwanda President Paul Kagame has used the platform of the CAF Executive Committee meeting in Kigali to express his praise for the new mindset that is supporting African football to achieve its aims.
“I’m very pleased, on behalf of my whole country, to have you here,” President Kagame said to the assembled CAF Executive Committee and the FIFA delegation in the Rwandan capital. “It’s a badge of honour for us. The two brothers I am sitting with here (FIFA President Gianni Infantino and CAF President Patrice Motsepe), I have known for a long time, and our minds are more or less synchronised on what to do for sport, for football. I have enjoyed working with them, and we are a family.
“I do politics for a living, and I also make sure I get involved in good politics,” the Rwandan President added. “If you look at sport, teams and clubs, it’s very similar to politics. It’s about leadership. You have to have a vision. Then, when it comes down to details, we have to work as a team. In the same exercise of our duties, we also need humility in what we do, so we can maximize the benefits of our work.
“We have to be competitive in what we do, and we have to work together,” he added. “And also think of others beyond our teams. Like fans. We need an ambition, and a drive. No-one is excluded. You can’t be happy alone, unless the members of your team are happy. I find that convergence every day in my work. It’s the same in football. All of you here today – this is what you represent.”
FIFA President Gianni Infantino at the CAF Executive Committee in Rwanda
CAF Executive Committee in Rwanda
The FIFA President echoed President Kagame’s words, stressing that the progress made by Rwanda is a benchmark for football in Africa to follow.
“Football is more than just a sport, it is a school for life,” the FIFA President said. “Football teaches us to be part of a team. It teaches us that alone, we cannot achieve anything. Football is teaching us respect, for the rules, for our opponents, and for the referee, who has to apply the rules. Football teaches us to win and to lose. It is teaching us resilience, and to stand up to new challenges.
“This country (Rwanda) shows us that everything is possible, and this is what you, President Kagame, have been doing here,” he added. “We just need to want it and then we need to do it, and we all want to do this for Africa, and for African football. We want to re-write the glorious pages of African football, not only for Africa, but for the world. We want African football to shine all over the world.
For his part, the CAF President recognised the important role that the Rwandan President has been making in supporting African football on a political level.
“In you, President Kagame, we don’t only have an ambassador, but a partner,” Patrice Motsepe said. “A partner who talks on our behalf with all other heads of state in Africa. To say to them, we have to work together to support the most popular sport of football on the continent.”
The meeting also included a presentation from FIFA Chief of Global Football Development, Arsene Wenger, who stated: “I personally believe that Africa will be the continent of the 21st century, and that football has to anticipate that movement, because it is a great opportunity.”
FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development was referring to the recently published report, Increasing Global Competitiveness, which highlights the need for every talented player to deserve a chance to be identified and developed, because analysis has shown that many talents are going undiscovered due to a number of factors, including the lack of planning, quality of education, infrastructure and financial resources to train youngsters.