President Paul Kagame has challenged athletes to report sports administrators who mistreat them while they are representing the country.
Kagame was addressing more than 2,000 youths from different parts of the country during the 10-year anniversary of YouthConnekt at the Intare Conference Arena, Rusororo.
The President slammed sports federation officials who put their egos and interests first and forget about athletes, leaving them in conditions that prevent them from representing the country well at various competitions.
For instance, he said, “you take 20 athletes to a competition in Europe. They are young athletes who are willing and capable. They would be even more capable if they got the resources meant for them.”
“But the problem is, those 20 athletes are put on a bus and then the officials fly first-class with their families and friends. They (athletes) end up exhausted and hungry, sometimes they immediately rush to the competitions upon arrival or they arrive when the competitions are over,” he added.
He urged athletes who experience such maltreatment to speak out so that the responsible officials can be held accountable.
“I am addressing this to you, the youth, because you represent a big number. Speak out so we know it and hold them to account. They should be held accountable, but you should also act, break your silence and show them that you can’t accept it so that it doesn’t happen to anyone else,” he said.
Cyclists stranded en route to Glasgow
The Head of State’s comments came after it emerged that a group of Rwandan cyclists were stranded in London, United Kingdom, a fortnight ago after missing out on a flight to Glasgow, Scotland, where they were due to participate in the 2023 UCI Road World Championship that took place from August 5-13.
The New Times has established that the cyclists, who competed in the juniors (U19) race, departed Kigali for London on August 3 aboard a Turkish Airlines flight. Upon arrival in London, they were told that their flight to Glasgow had been cancelled.
They had no one on the ground to help them out as local cycling governing body (Ferwacy) secretary-general Benoit Munyankindi, who was the head of delegation, had already flown to Glasgow along with federation president Abdallah Murenzi to attend a UCI council meeting on August 2.
The cyclists departed London on Friday night (August 4) for a seven-hour bus ride to Glasgow. It is understood two of the riders were just hours from their race by the time they embarked on the road trip.
Turned away at the airport
Munyankindi was arrested on Monday this week on multiple charges, including favouritism and forgery. Rwanda Investigation Bureau has also disclosed that Murenzi is also under investigation over failure to act against the excesses of Munyankindi.
Meanwhile, The New Times has established that the detained Benediction Club co-founder also faces questions over the inclusion of his wife on the list of official delegates who were due to travel to Glasgow yet she is neither an athlete nor an official from the cycling federation.
She was later turned away at the Kigali International Aiport before departure after questions emerged around the process that led to her acquiring the necessary travel documents.
Addressing his audience on Wednesday, Kagame pointed out that such abuses were commonplace across local sports federations.
“There is not one federation where you can’t find these problems related to a bad culture of corruption. …whether it’s cycling, volleyball, football, basketball… you can’t develop when the little resources meant to be invested to develop the sport go to one or two people and not others,” he said.
“It’s a fact that we have officials who work like that,” he added.