Home Sports Ooh Rayon! Will Former and Current Leaders Ever Shake Hands To Revive Rayon Sports FC?

Ooh Rayon! Will Former and Current Leaders Ever Shake Hands To Revive Rayon Sports FC?

by Jean de la Croix Tabaro
12:40 am

Gikundiro for some, Gasenyi for others depending on the preferred vantage point, or simply Rayon Sports for those who have nothing much to do with football fanaticism, is a local football club that has a history of drawing a load of attention.

 It is normal when they win a game in the Rwanda Premier League, but it is great when they defeat their bitter rival, APR FC. However, when they don’t win a match, some fans will name someone behind the failure, and that person will have a nightmare. 

Rayon Sports is among the leaders – if not at the top – in terms of fan base to the point that when one fan crosses to another team, it becomes the talk of the city. 

For a couple of years now, fans seem to have deception as daily bread, which is largely blamed on leadership. 

Tracing the recent story of the team, fans are still very much concerned about a rift between former and current leadership and the poor performance of the team, who managed to lift just one significant title in the past four campaigns, the Peace Cup title which they won in 2023. 

Jean Fidele Uwayezu Vs Sadate Munyakazi 

On July 14, 2019, Rayon Sports electoral college entrusted the then little-spoken Sadate Munyakazi the leadership as club president. He came with big ambitions including putting transparency in the club’s financial books, being accountable to the fans and most importantly, doing the thing no other team in the region ever managed. 

He pledged to build a 60,000-seat stadium within his tenure which earned him so much admiration. 

But Munyakazi did not walk the talk because, after barely one year at the helm, things started falling apart; he started to be in bad books with the golden sponsors including the brewery company Skol Rwanda. 

He also parted ways with former leaders including those who recommended him. 

Campaigns to have Munyakazi step down peacefully yielded no results because he resisted, which exacerbated commotion. He started having bust-ups with fellow executive committee members and then players. 

Some of the former leaders started showing dissatisfaction to the extent that they wrote to the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB), which has associations in attribution. 

They even introduced a new president of the association, Charles Ngarambe, but Munyakazi wrote his letter to RGB, reminding them that he was the legal leader. RGB confirmed the leadership of the latter but this only exacerbated the conflict. 

In October 2020, it became too much for the team to bear, until RGB agreed with Rayons that it was time for change.

Thadee Twagirayezu, once in Rayon Sports Committee

At Lemigo Hotel, they elected Jean Fidele Uwayezu as president, then Jacques Kayisire and Roger Ngoga as two vice presidents. 

However, the former leaders were advised to stay away from the team despite the pledge of the new leadership to bring all Rayon members together. 

These quarrels persisted to the extent that Rayons believed that Uwayezu was but an envoy of RGB, not really a servant of the team. 

“To those who believe that, let me tell you! I am not a staff of RGB, I am a dedicated leader of Rayon Sports who loves the team and was elected to serve in the capacity of president,” he said. 

Paul Muvunyi

However, the challenge Rayons Sports faced was the failure of the leader of not bringing all the fans together, including those that could have helped it to stand firm, the likes of Charles Ngarambe, Paul Muvunyi, Dr. Claude Rwagacondo, Theogene Ntampaka, Denis Chances Gacinya, Prosper Muhirwa and Paul Ruhamyambuga to mention quite a few.

 With this, some fans started claiming that “Owners of Rayon Sports are being kept away”, but RGB boss Usta Kayitesi answered them that “no one has an exclusive ownership on an association, it is an organisation for everyone.”

 Those who feel offended go on record to speak out 

“You can only intervene or contribute to something if people ask you. How can we do something if none has shown that they are interested in us?” said ex-Vice President Freddy Muhirwa. 

Nevertheless, ‘Gikundiro’ fans will always raise their voice if the team loses. In January, they held accountable the team president after a game loss, but he reacted in a way that was considered rude. 

“They want to beat the Secretary-General and myself because we lost a game! Those are the people who were in the leadership position before us and they are not happy with Rayon’s achievements,” he said and made a comparison relating to Rwanda’s history of Genocide tragedy that was received with bad taste.

 Since 2020, Rayon Sports did not give the fans what they expected from it. In the 2020-2021 champion, they ended sixth, and the following year, fourth.

 They ended in the third position in the season of 2022-2023 which, according to the fans, was still not impressive for their team which they always want champions. But it is the year Uwayezu did something to be proud of because he won the Peace Cup.

 In this year’s league, they finished second while their foe, APR FC, were champions. In the Peace Cup, Rayon Sports also lost to Bugesera FC, a team that was threatened to be relegated, in the semi-finals. The latter lost to Police FC 2-1 in the finals.

 The team faced instability with six coaches in four years, with some serving as little as three months.

 Uwayezu will, however, take credit for trying to solve the issue of salary arrears among the players even though there is still a long way to go, but he made some steps.

In October, he will conclude his term, which was hard because his two assistants, Kayisire and Ngoga, resigned earlier, along with some other unit leaders.

 Under Uwayezu, She Rayon Sports were champions in the second division, which saw them promoted to the first tier in mid-2023. They quickly show their prowess by winning both the Peace Cup and the league during the just-ended season. 

To date, Rayon Sports have 9 Peace Cup titles on their shelves, against 13 of their rival, APR, while in the league, the latter is far away with 22 trophies against 9 of Rayon Sports.

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