Districts across the country are cutting back on how much money they allocate to local football teams – a situation affecting the clubs, many of which do not have any other source of funding.
The Peace Cup, one of the major football leagues in the country is around the corner. However, only twelve clubs out of sixteen from the top flight have met the registration deadline to participate in this year Peace Cup.
They are SC Kiyovu, AS Kigali, Rayon Sports FC, Sunrise FC, Police FC, APR FC, Mukura VS, Bugesera FC, Marines FC, Etincelles FC, ESPOIR FC and Gicumbi FC managed to registration on time.
By Wednesday May 1, teams like Amagaju FC, Kirehe FC, Musanze FC, and Muhanga FC could not pay the registration fee of Rwf 100,000 on time.
All these teams are either affiliated to districts, state parastatals or government departments. It is partly the reason many are named after the funding source.
AS Muhanga, was the first team to grapple with a tough decision after confirming to FERWAFA that they will not the part take in this year’s Peace Cup due to financial constraints. They announced the decision with five games left for the national league to conclude.
In his own words, Yusufu Bisangabagabo, the Secretary General of AS Muhanga said the Rwf 40 million sponsorship from the district each season was not enough.
The club had to spend on signing new players after getting promoted to the top league table.
“The funds were spent on paying wages for players and coaches. Moving up to top division became expensive. That meant costs doubled as a result of doubled wage payments compared to what we used to pay in 2nd division, yet we still have more work to do in league season,” he said.
He add that they have cut their spending for Peace Cup as it is less significant.
Teams like Amagaju FC of Nyamagabe district or Musanze FC have yet to announce why they could not meet the registration deadline.
Reports suggest that their home districts are not willing to release as much cash for the teams.
Strangely however, Nyamagabe, Musanze and Muhanga districts are all either economically sound regions, or have powerful political backing.
Nyamagabe is where many of the country’s top leaders hail from – including the President of the Senate Bernard Makuza. While, Muhanda and Musanze are major urban centers – making them better placed to get the funding for the district team with so much ease.
Already, Amagaju FC is headed for relegation at the bottom of the league table with 16 points from 25 games played.
They have registered only four wins, four draw and suffered 17 defeats.
The team is said to be struggling to pay players and coaches on time. In addition, it was unable to sign new players during the transfer’s season.
The decision to slash funding by districts started this financial year. Districts like Bugesera which sponsors Bugesera FC reduced the team’s budget from Rwf 60 million to Rwf40 million.
It has prompted clubs to opt for other sources of funding, such as corporate sponsorship and donations from fans.
Top league team Rayon Sports FC which has a huge fan-based for instance, increased their budgets to Rwf 700 million from Rwf 450 million last season.
They receive over Rwf66m from Skol per year. The club also has a partnership agreement with Airtel in which fans get access to affordable voice and data services from the telecom company, while part of the revenues from the schemes are allocated to the club.
The final game of the Peace Cup is sometimes played on Liberation Day July 4, attended by all the who is who in Rwanda – making it a huge deal to miss for a team.
Huye district’s Mukura VS is the reigning champion as the 2018 winner. It took the trophy after winning Rayon on penalities.