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How Rayon Sport won the league title

Rayon-Musanze

Rayon has floored all competition, sealing its league victory in a 1-0 win against Musanze last Wednesday (pictured). (photo Farouk Kaweesi)

After nine agonizing years of not winning a trophy, Rayon Sport have become Primus League champions after a second season half that saw them drop just four points in thirteen games.

The Blues were the dominant force in national football before 1994 and contin­ued to enjoy relative success afterwards until they were dethroned in 2004 by APR as the country’s strongest team.

Formed in 1968 in Nyanza town, Ray­on Sport has won six league trophies, eight Peace cups, one Cecafa trophy and represented Rwanda in 12 continental tournaments. That record however pales in comparison to their main rivals APR, which in only the past two decades has won 13 league trophies, 7 peace cups, 3 Cecafa triumphs and has represented Rwanda 17 times on the continent.

Rayon Chairman Murenzi Abdallah however is confident that winning the league again after such a long time will spur the club to greater heights, yet at the same time he admits they can bor­row a leaf from the army side.

“Many people attribute APR’s domi­nance to their financial clout but I be­lieve there is more to it. APR has been more organised, with good administra­tion structures that have helped shape the club into a winning side,” Murenzi says, adding that his club will follow the same blueprint.

That might seem too much modesty, because obviously their league victory this year shows that Rayon has over the past years made serious efforts to im­prove its game.

Last year, after 26 years in Kigali, the club decided to return to their roots in Nyanza in a deal with the district. Nyanza FC disbanded their club and agreed to inject Frw 44m every season. As a result, the Blues who had always struggled to pay players’ salaries on time, were now in good financial health and there has been no mention ever since of players striking over delayed salaries.

The situation has improved to such a degree that sources tell this paper that today Rayon actually pays better than powerhouse APR.

Bonuses for wins, for example, which had almost become the stuff of dreams for the players, were once again paid in time.

Whether true or not, the healthy fi­nances put Rayon Sport’s management in a strong position to convince play­ers to stay with the club and accept to be based in Nyanza, even though this meant that several of them had to leave their young families behind in the capi­tal and move southwards where they live together with the coaching staff.

This not only improved the harmony within the group but also meant that the players had much less occasion to live the good life – staying late in night clubs, drinking and sleeping with countless girls.

An insider in the club says the play­ers are responsibly planning for their futures, saving money and trying to invest.

Players put in place

That improved attitude can with­out doubt for a big part be attributed to coach Didier Gomez da Rosa. The Frenchman had tried unsuccessfully to land coaching roles with AS Kigali and Mukura, until Rayon gave him a six-month trial to return back the club to its winning form.

Gomez did not only concentrate on making the Blues a better team but also enforced discipline among the players, whose bad behavior had pol­luted the club for a long time. It was not usual for them to sneak out of the country without club permission, ap­parently thinking they were bigger than the club.

The new coach quickly put a halt to that by putting the players firmly back in their place. Burundian inter­national Karim McKenzie for instance was stripped of the captaincy because of failing to return on time after an in­ternational engagement.

In return, the club’s management made sure the players were well treat­ed. Bonuses for wins, for example, which had almost become the stuff of dreams for the players, were once again paid in time. What is more, they were doubled to Frw 50,000 and paid the day after a victory.

Rayon also gave the team Frw 50,000 for every goal, resulting in a handsome Frw 300,000 extra after their recent 6-1 thrashing of Muhanga.

Needless to say, such policies gave a major boost to the team’s zeal and com­petiveness.

Rayon’s adversaries, on the other hand, started the season rather weak­ened after they lost star players. APR and Police last season decided to use only locals in their teams, which meant releasing all their big foreign players, some of whom joined the Blues.

It is now up to Rayon Sport to prove that this league title was not just a lucky strike, but that they are back at the top to stay.

Posted by on May 19 2013. Filed under Sport, Weekly Highlights. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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