Bizimungu welcomes new Rayon era
Nyanza District has moved a step closer to completing a lucrative sponsorship deal with Rayon Sports but Ali Bizimungu believes that continuity is key to his reign. The former Mukura coach, who was Jean Marie Ntagwabira’s right-hand man last season, was finally rubber-stamped as Rayon’s new coach last week.
The announcement followed the confirmation of Primus League side Nyanza FC joining forces with Rayon. FERWAFA, however, will be keeping a close eye on developments at Rayon Sports. “We will continue to monitor any material changes at Rayon to make sure we are on the same page,” said the body’s Secretary General Michel Gasingwa.
Bizimungu believes his strong links with the club he joined last season will prove important next term. “I’m pleased I’m still at the club and pleased to be working for this very good club and to be given the opportunity to take it forward,” he said. “I’ve been here for one season now but I believe it’s good to have a little bit of continuity.”
“I’ve had a few discussions with the club’s top management and I’m happy with the direction that the club is taking,” he added. “I very much look forward to working closely with the club’s management and supporters to develop Rayon and deliver future success. The club has a long and fine history of achievement that I intend to build on.”
“He has immense experience and a great knowledge of the game and commands the respect of the players. We know that he will do a great job,” Rayon’s Secretary General Olivier Gakwaya said.
Bizimungu, who will be assisted by former Nyanza FC coach Abdul Mbarushimana, is already preparing his squad for life without Bokota Labama. The veteran striker has joined bitter rivals Kiyovu. “Bokota has moved on. He was a great lad and a great addition to our dressing room. We wish him all the best.”
Rayon gets financial lifeline
After long periods of endless financial woes, the blues are close to their first major breakthrough towards financial recovery. Focus Sport understands that the Mayor of Nyanza Abdallah Murenzi has agreed ‘in principle’ to bankroll the blues for the coming season. The proposed deal is believed to be in the region of Frw 80m.
Rayon has struggled to live up to its hype since 2005 when it won its last silverware (Peace Cup). Since then, it has played second fiddle to APR while the likes of Etincelles, Police and Kiyovu Sports have also leveled up.
According to Olivier Gakwaya, the club’s budget per season stands at Frw 150m so Nyanza’s package will certainly put the club at the same footing with APR.
However, fans are not getting carried away just yet. Early last year, they thought that they had finally gotten a savior in Albert Rudatsimburwa. The media mogul took over the club promising to deliver instant success but was driven out a few months later after failing to honor his end of the bargain. In fact, the two parties parted acrimoniously with the club accusing the investor of heavily indebting the club.
Following Rudatsimburwa’s exit, it was reported that the club’s top bankrollers Paul Muvunyi, Charles Ngarambe and Theo Mazimpaka among others, had agreed to start up an investment company which would solve the club’s financial woes which have become folder for ridicule. On top of handling the club’s transfers and players’ wages, it would also handle the club’s day to day affairs.
“We want to put a lasting solution to the constant financial problems the club faces every season, and we think forming an investment company made of our imminent fans is the right move,” Gakwaya was quoted as saying at the time. “We are in the final stages of registering the company and we want members of the company to invest money in the club in return for profit. The details will be communicated after the company has been registered.”
But two months down the road, the company is still non-existent.
Such has been the see-saw financial situation that has engulfed Rayon since time immemorial, resulting in the inability to pay promptly players’ wages and managers’ salaries as well as ineptness to attract outstanding players.
It’s ironic that while Rayon have the lion’s share of the country’s fan base, they have failed to harness that support as a bargaining chip to attract corporate sponsorship, hence the continued financial constraints that have hiccupped the team’s chase for silverware. The club survives on contributions from its loyal members commonly known as “Imena”, but whose donations can only be described as awfully low.
Questions have also emerged over the future of Primus League side Nyanza, and Murenzi confirmed that the club will cease to exist if Rayon and Nyanza District reach a deal.
With six league titles (1975, 1981, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2004), eight Peace Cups (1976, 1979, 1982, 1989, 1993, 1995, 1998, 2005) and one Cecafa Kagame Cup (1998), Rayon Sport is the second most successful club in Rwanda. APR still tops the charts with 13 league titles, six Peace Cups and two Cecafa Kagame Cups.