Village Urugwiro, 23 January 2010

President Kagame today received at Village Urugwiro the U-17 National soccer team which played in the finals in the CAF U-17 African Nations Cup at Amahoro Stadium yesterday. Speaking to the team which was accompanied by its technical staff, the head coach, the Minister of Sports and Culture, Joseph Habineza and the Rwanda Football Federation President, John Bosco Kazura, President Kagame congratulated them for making it to the final and wished them even better performance at the FIFA U-17 World Cup which will take place in Mexico mid this year. “You did not win the first place but generally the performance was impressive. You made us proud and be assured of our support,” President Kagame told the players.

Commending them for their immense talent, President Kagame told the players that they have what it takes to achieve bigger things and that as much as the coach, the Minister, the Football Federation and the President of the Republic can provide the means and support required to bring out their talents, it is upon them to make sure that they develop the talents to maximum by working hard and being disciplined and determined. Advising them to look forward to the upcoming World Cup tournament in Mexico, President Kagame said: “You should now look to the future and forget what happened yesterday. We cannot change yesterday’s results but we can certainly influence tomorrow’s by learning from our mistakes and making adjustments. We have to start preparing now and not later.”

President Kagame advised the team to take advantage of their youth and talent and work hard so that they can the furthest level possible as career footballers. “When you are alone somewhere, in your bed as you go to sleep or somewhere else, try to meditate and think about what you can do to develop your talent to the maximum as an individual and then think about the entire team – what should your contribution be to make the team excel? Success lies in three things – the individual, the team and the fans – if one of these miss, chances of achieving victory are quite negligible,” The President said.

President Kagame asked the players to observe a high degree of discipline and listen to what the coach tells them if they want to succeed in their next assignment and have a positive attitude always. “You have to do what you are told to do and not what you think you should do. When you are out there in the field playing, you must endeavor to give your level best, play with determination, honesty and a positive attitude. Don’t always depend on misleading the referee to give fraudulent advantages because this is not good. Play your game and aim to win honestly by working hard,” President Kagame told the players. President Kagame told the players and inspiring story of black American boxers during the era of racism in the US who would always lose to their white opponents whenever the encounter had to be decided on points. He said black players would always lose even if they had clearly outperformed their white opponents because the referees were mostly white. “What the black boxers decided to do was to try hard and beat their opponents by knock-out so that there could be no chance of cheating them of victory,” the President said.

Asking the players to adapt a fighting spirit and work hard to always fend off mediocrity, President Kagame said: “You are still young so I ask you to aim to be the best you can be by being focused on your objectives. Play technically, tactfully and with determination but most of all, you have to have a fighting spirit. In the field, you have the same capabilities as the other team. It is the attitude that matters most.” President Kagame also advised the young players not to concentrate so much on material rewards so much and instead concentrate on developing their talents and reaching as far as possible. “You have to grow up as respectable, disciplined and dignified people. Added to your talent, these values will enable you to even play for these big clubs one day,” President Kagame advised the young players.

President Kagame Pledged continued support as the team prepares for Mexico and after, and offered each player half a million Rwanda Francs as a token of appreciation for performing well at the continental tournament