President Paul Kagame has urged national team players to exercise discipline and self-restraint as a key factor to success and to save and spend wisely the earnings.
The Head of State made the call on Sunday when he met members of the national football team Amavubi as well as the coaching and technical staff upon return from the African Nations Championship (CHAN 2020) in Cameroon, where they reached the quarterfinals.
President Kagame told the players that at some point he had given up on following up on football because he was disappointed by officials failing to deliver on what they agreed on and did not want to associate himself with bad results.
He however said that after following the games in Cameroon and how the team played, he decided to end his self-imposed exile by identifying areas where improvement is needed for the team to perform even better, going by their performance in CHAN 2020.
President Kagame expressed hope that if certain issues such as management, internal squabbles and discipline on the part of players, are addressed, the national team can perform better than they did in Cameroon.
“Everything requires discipline, it enables people to do things professionally and to stick to one’s goal and draw lessons from all that you do. Every game you played, the ones you lost, won or drew, each of them has a lesson,”
“Discipline gives you the ability to learn. Discipline helps you to exercise restraint. When you show anger on the field, you have to ask yourself, who are you proving a point to? You are instead failing your team. Arguing or being angry does not give you any points,” President Kagame said, reflecting on the CHAN performance.
Citing an example of Rwanda, President Kagame said that it has taken a lot of resilience and discipline for the country to be where it is today.
“With all the challenges we have gone through, if we were not people with discipline, with resilience to keep trying even when we fail, with respect for the rules, we would not have made progress. Discipline is needed in all aspects of life,”
“You have to ask yourself what lessons have you learned? I don’t mean lessons like in school, ask yourself what have you learned from the wrong that was done to you, or the praises you have received?” he said.
He highlighted some examples in the past, which affected the performance of the team, including some individuals who believed in witchcraft and some players who thought they were bigger than the coach and interfered in the tactician’s work.
He urged the players to be disciplined and listen to those in charge of the team if they have to perform better and also exercise responsibility, including how they conduct themselves in terms of appearance and respecting the coach.
“The coach has to do his job and the players should play their role. They can discuss the issues at hand and find solutions with each one of them playing their part but the players cannot replace their coach. Discipline enables such an environment to be put in place,” he said.
The Head of State promised the players a bonus for their performance in Cameroon, without mentioning a sum, but urged the players to utilise their earnings and save, to develop themselves, instead of spending it in bars.
The Minister of Sports, Aurore Mimosa Munyangaju, thanked President Kagame for making time to visit the team, promising that they will do their best to improve the performance of the national team.
The national team coach Vincent Mashami said that due to the New Coronavirus outbreak, the players had limited training and the fact that national competitions had stopped due to the pandemic affected their pedigree but they did their best to put up a commendable performance.
Amavubi drew 0-0 with Uganda and Champions Morocco, who beat Mali 2-0 in the final on Sunday, defeated Togo 3-2 to progress to the quarterfinals, before losing 1-0 to Guinea to crash out.