Mexicali, Mexico, July 7 2013 — Rwanda finished in the 20th place at FIVB Boys’ U19 World Championship. However in their first experience in a competition like this there were many positive things to achieve.
More than two decades ago the African country experienced a political turmoil that took to a civil war. However hope have raised again in a country that live a new era inside their borders, but also want to be known worldwide.
Volleyball has given the oportunity to a group of boys that took a long journey from Central Africa to the Mexican northern border after the National U19 Team qualified to the championship.
“Being here it has been a very good experience and a pleasure for us”, said coach Jean Marie Vianney. “It is also important for the future of Rwanda’s volleyball”.
This is one of the fourth African countries that have participated at the Tournament in the cities of Tijuana and Mexicali, along with Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt.
Egypt have been one of the most experienced teams. They qualified to second round and despite losing against Iran in the Round of 16, will contend for the 11th place in the end of the tournament.
In the case of Rwanda, there is a long way to go, but the first step has been taken. “We have to improve a lot, but I think We have learned a lot by participating in this competition as well has have the chance to exchange experience with other players”, said captain Jacques Iradukunda.
“We have enjoyed it a lot. To participate in a world championship is something special, in the end you take many positive things,” He added.
After their arrival, Rwandan team started to train at the High Performance Center in Tijuana, where They played one of their most memorable matches. On June 29, the African squad faced Finland in a five sets match.
Finland took the win, however, Rwanda’s opposite spiker, Samuel Niyogisubizo scored 33 points and got the credit for his team effort. In the last match, in the Classification Round Robin phase for places 17-20, in the city of Mexicali, Niyogisubizo suffered a sprained ankle and could not play.
However the courage and character remained for the team that played hard against Tunisia. “It was not easy but I found out that we were improving match by match,” coach Vianney mentioned.
During the tournament, Rwanda had the chance top lay on both venues: the Performance Center and also the State Auditorium in Mexicali. “We found a big difference between these two cities,” said Vianney.
“The weather of Tijuana in this part of the year is a lot more like ours in Rwanda,” He added. “We felt more familiar with that, but it was difficult to adapt when we arrived in Mexicali because of the temperature.”
But beyond that, the human warmth of Mexican fans and hosts was one of the top amenities at their first world championship.
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