Rwandan players tell how volleyball becomes the No. 1 sport in their country
Izmir, Turkey, August 24, 2013- Among 20 countries participating at FIVB Men's U21 World Championship in Turkey, Rwanda is the only one who experience this adventure for the first time in their history being between the top teams all over the world.
The players are spirited to experience their first ever journey as ambassadors for their country which was till few years ago know nothing about volleyball.
Rwanda is a central African country where football, athletics and other physical sports were popular until the last 5 years where volleyball has got a lot of interest in both genders due to the great support from the local authorities for the Rwandan National federation. Now volleyball has become one of the most popular sports in the country and it attracted already the interest of a lot of young guys.
Rwanda had difficult days in their history. In 1994 they had disastrous events throughout 3 months in what is known as “Rwanda Genocide”. Now they are still trying to bounce back in all activities where volleyball was also there to celebrate the memorial of the Genocide through annual volleyball competition.
Over 46 people belong to volleyball including players, coaches, and administrators, were killed during the 1994 Genocide perpetrated against Tutsi.
With a new government in place after Genocide, a wind of change was blowing across the country’s playing fields. This government believed that sport and mainly volleyball could play an important part in rebuilding the country as volleyball can contribute to reconciliation, to the cultivation of a feeling of national unity. Sports unite people.”
Volleyball has been assigned an important role in primary school education and village life. lt is hoped that this will help young people traumatised by the events of 1994 once again find enjoyment in their lives and promote friendship amongst children. From primary school and village level.
Now it is a new era for the Rwandans in their history as this is the first time they participate at Men’s U21 World Championship far away from their country, in Izmir, Turkey.
For Those players who were born 1993 and after this is their first time to participate at international champions. They are all competing against well trained and experienced teams. However they are playing with big ambitions.
The aim of Rwandans is to get experience as they can. “We had bad days in our history. U21 Men’s World Championship is a great chance for us to improve ourselves at the international platforms. It’s a big motivation and experience for everyone. Back in 1994 people were killing each other in Rwanda but now they are all supporting volleyball” Rwanda coach Paul Bitok said.
"After qualifying for the U21 Men’s World Championship, volleyball became the sport number No. 1 in Rwanda" Bitok continued.
"All players are really excited to be here in Izmir for the World Championship and aimed to gain international experiences," Rwanda captain Aimable Mutuyimana said. "This is a great chance for us to improve ourselves for international championships. As long as we play such big competitions we will be able to beat stronger teams than us."
Rwandan star Bonny Mutabazi thinks that it is very good to compete against experienced teams to improve themselves and adds "This competition is very good for us. All teams are very tough and experienced. The championship is not easy but we are glad that to be here. We have a chance to see our mistakes and improve ourselves. We all think that this is a great chance for us."
Rwandan guys play with their heart and do their best. Ivan Mahora Nsabimana thinks they will get better match by match and adds "We have many mistakes that should be corrected. This will happen as long as we keep improving ourselves. We are happy to be here."
Bitok concluded that they are glad to be here in such a well organized international platform. "Rwanda is a small country. We got everyone’s support in the country. I’m happy to quaify Rwandan team to the Men’s U21 World Championship. I’m thankful to FIVB to give us chance to participate at Men’s U21 World Championship. We see our mistakes and we will continue to be successful."