The First Lady Jeannette Kagame and Leena Al Ashkar, the spouse of the President of FIFA, and football legends in the world of football yesterday visited, played, and had a chat with children trained at a local football academy- Umuri Academy.
During the visit held on Tuesday, the guests had the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience with the children, encouraging them in their future dreams, but also sharing moments of entertainment.
Dressed in sportswear, Mrs. Kagame and the football legends in her company joined the children to kick and pass the football in and around group circles which excited the children as they also displayed talent to the visiting officials.
The visit is part of the preparatory activities ahead of the 73rd FIFA congress due to be held in Kigali city this March 16, at Kigali BK Arena bringing together about 2,000 delegates from 211-member associations and other football stakeholders.
Umuri Academy is an academy founded by Rwandan international footballer, Jimmy Mulisa, and consists of girls and boys under 17 years of age who have the talent to play football. From the center, Rwanda hopes to promote early talent in football.
Mulisa said that his dream is to see the development of football in Rwanda and the academy is one of the ways to groom young talents.
Al Ashkar, the spouse of the President of FIFA thanked Rwanda football legend for his acts of humility and humanity but asked the children to be grateful for their life and career path in order to attain the goals in life.
Some of the famous football legends Portia Modise and Asamoah Gyan who shared football skills with the academy children insisted that it is important for these children to have academic skills in addition to their football talent.
“Football is a short career and a child must balance it with an education so that if you get injured you can be a doctor, a lawyer, or anything you want but being a footballer,” Modise said.
Modise is a South African footballer who was named Player of the Championship at the 2006 Women’s African Football Championship.
She was the captain of the female national team- Banyana Banyana and represented South Africa at the 2012 London Olympics. She became the first African player to score 100 international goals.
Gyan said that it is important to inspire children to meet their dreams just as it happened to most of the legends in the sport.
“We are here to show these children that everything is possible and it all starts here with a dream but this needs someone like us to show the children how it can come true,” Gyan said.
Ghanaian football player, who last played as a striker for Legon Cities FC and is the former captain of the Ghana national team and also an all-time leading goal scorer of the Ghana national team, with 51 goals.
He represented Ghana 2006, 2010, and 2014 FIFA World Cups. With 6 goals, he is the top African goal scorer in the history of the World Cup. He has also represented Ghana at the 2004 Summer Olympics and in seven Africa Cup of Nations in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019, helping them finish in third place in 2008 and runner-up in 2010 and 2015.