Alphonse Munyentwari was elected head of the Rwanda Football Federation (FERWAFA) on Saturday 25 June for a two-year term. He replaces Olivier Mugabo Nizeyimana, who resigned in April this year. The former governor of southern Rwanda is tasked with developing football, starting with the youth categories.
Alphonse Munyentwari, you have just been elected to head FERWAFA. What are your priorities?
“My priority is the development of our football. To achieve this, we’re going to prioritise training with the aim of preparing the players who will represent the country. We’re going to do everything we can to ensure that our country is represented at youth level and in all categories in international competitions, with the aim of achieving good results. Football is a much-loved sport in Rwanda. We will be looking for partners to provide support for our teams.
We will be looking for training courses for coaches, referees and doctors, so that the men’s and women’s teams have well-trained technicians. We are also going to introduce good governance so that there is transparency in our organisation.”
There are often suspicions of bribery and corruption at certain matches in the Rwandan championship. How are you going to combat this scourge?
“I don’t think that this is a reality in our football when teams were fighting for the title right up to the last day. But if that’s the case, it’s intolerable. I will fight with all my might against anything that will hinder the smooth running of football. Referees who falsify results, arrangements between teams or even those who still believe in witchcraft will be seriously punished. The best must win, and win honestly. We were elected to develop football so that fans flock to different stadiums and are happy wherever they are.”
You’ve been more involved in politics than football, what motivated you?
“Sport also has its politics (laughs) and there’s also sports politics. I’ve been a governor and I’ve run districts, that’s true. Here at home you can’t be a good leader if you don’t give time to sport. Many of our football teams are run by the provinces and state institutions. Wherever I’ve been, football has taken up a lot of my time. I supported my teams and from time to time I also played football. There’s no incompatibility. On the other hand, when you’ve been a manager close to the people, it’s easy to manage football. Frankly, I’m proud to have my feet firmly planted in football today and I hope, in collaboration with my committee, that we can develop this most beloved sport in Rwanda. My wish is to see young Rwandans emerge at international level and return to serve their country.“
Few FERWAFA presidents reach the end of their mandate. Aren’t you worried?
“I’m not worried at all. Even in politics, people resign. When you go to work thinking that you’re going to resign because your predecessors did, it’s because you have no ambition. For me, every second, every minute, every day, every month I have to think about the development of our football, how to get people interested in investing in football so that we can give our young people the chance to work in a healthy environment. I think we’ll be here at the end of our mandate, but if we don’t fulfil our mission properly, you never know. With all those involved in football, we hope to work well for the image of our country. In a word, we’re not worried. On the other hand, we are impatient to begin our work.”
Rwanda enjoys good relations with CAF and FIFA. How do you intend to take advantage of this?
“Thanks to our president, who loves football, Rwanda has good relations with these institutions, and that’s a good thing. We’re going to take advantage of that, of course, because we need to learn. We need them to achieve our goal. We’ll be listening to anyone who wants to help us move forward.”