Rwanda basks under world football spotlight
What you need to know:
- CAF honours President Kagame, King Mohammed IV of Morocco with continent’s Achievement Award.
Tiny Rwanda is punching above its weight and holding up quite well.
After recently staging the Tour du Rwanda, a 2.1 category Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) race, the country is now set to host the 73rd Fifa Congress today bringing together about 2,000 delegates from 211 member associations.
Fifa president Gianni Infantiono is expected to be elected unopposed for a third term since taking office in 2016.
World football leaders have gathered in Kigali to attend the congress and other activities staged on world class infrastructure.
For the past few years Rwanda has invested in sports infrastructure as it positions itself to be the a continental sports hub, hosting major competitions. The country is targeting earning $800 million (Sh103.6 billion) in sports tourism by next year.
Rwanda invested Rwf160 million (about $160,000) (Sh20.7 million) in 2021 to upgrade Amahoro Stadium, increasing its seating capacity from 25,000 to 45,000. The refurbishment is set to be completed next year.
The renovated Kigali Nyamirambo Stadium, now renamed Kigali Pele Stadium, was inauguration yesterday and a football tournament staged. The stadium’s capacity was increased to 15,000 with Fifa contributing $350,000 (Sh45.3 million) to the exercise.
Rwanda President Paul Kagame reflected on the role football played in reuniting Rwandans after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.
“Even after the tragedy, some of these young people all wanted to play football. .. when we took over, among the many things we wanted to invest in was football and we made sure to enable our young people be able to play football,” President Kagame said on Tuesday evening when he was honoured by Confederation of African Football (CAF).
The confederation’s president Patrice Motsepe, bestowed President Kagame and King Mohammed IV of Morocco the Outstanding Achievement Award in recognition of their contributions towards advancing African football.
The award was handed to both leaders by Motsepe and Fifa president Gianni Infantino in an event attended by Rwanda’s sports officials, CAF Executive Committee, CAF Member Association presidents, and other football leaders from across the continent.
“We are here to celebrate outstanding leaders and their work for football. Young children playing football need leaders who are strong to inspire and invest in football like President Kagame and King Mohammed IV who have transformed football in different ways in Africa,” said Infantino.