Rwanda eyes China’s support to boost sports profile

African nation hopes to draw on expertise so it can improve its performance in global competititions

Rwanda is looking to China in a bid to boost the Central African nation's sports profile.

Olivier Oleg Karambizi, adviser to Rwanda's minister of sports and culture, says China is already a global sports giant, excelling in the Olympics as well as other international sport tournaments.

"We hope to improve our performance in the future, including in the Olympic Games, as a result our of strong ties with China," Karambizi says.

Sino-Rwandan cooperation in the area of sports dates back to the 1980s, when China financed the construction of Amaharo National Stadium, which, with a capacity of 30,000, is the country's main sports arena.

Karambizi says the Rwandan and Chinese governments are discussing the development of new training facilities, as well as the refurbishment of existing ones.

"The objective is to ensure that Rwandan sportsmen and women have the necessary infrastructure to be competitive in the regional and global sports arena," he adds.

Today, bilateral cooperation in sports between Rwanda and China can be seen in two disciplines, kung fu and table tennis, where China is a global powerhouse.

Rwanda hosts the Ambassador's Kung Fu Cup, sponsored by the Chinese envoy to Rwanda.

China is also a big supporter of the Rwanda National Kung Fu Championship.

Karambizi says that because China is the home of kung fu, his country hopes to receive expertise from the Asian nation.

In the field of table tennis, Rwanda is also gaining expertise from China.

Karambizi says Rwanda has been a beneficiary of Chinese technical support in the sport.

"We remain optimistic that Rwanda will qualify to play table tennis in the 2020 Olympics as a result of capacity building from China," he says.

Currently, Rwandan coaches and athletes are undergoing six months of training in China to help improve their table tennis skills.

At present, China is the dominant nation in table tennis, having won the vast majority of medals since the sport was introduced in the Olympics in 1988.

Bonnie Mugabe, spokesman for the Rwandese Association Football Federation, says his organization is seeking closer ties with the Chinese soccer sector in order to improve the quality of Rwandan soccer.

Mugabe says Rwanda could learn from China's youth development strategy for soccer, which focuses on nurturing talent at an early age.

He says a number of Rwandan soccer players have expressed interest in playing in the lucrative Chinese Super League, which has attracted some of the best players from around the world.

For China Daily