Isonga Project: Unveiling Rwanda’s Sporting Talents for a Bright Future

In a declaration of commitment to nurturing young sporting talents, Rwanda’s Director General in charge of Sports Development at the Ministry of Sports, Rwego Ngarambe, has affirmed that the ‘Isonga Project’ is here to stay. Describing it as a platform where Rwanda’s future sporting stars are being groomed, Ngarambe’s remarks came during the closing ceremony of the ‘Isonga Training Camp’ in Nyanza district on Friday, September 8.

The ‘Isonga Project’ is a sports talent development initiative initiated by the Ministry of Sports, in collaboration with the French Development Agency (AFD). Its primary objective is to unearth, develop, and promote young talents, both male and female, in various sporting disciplines, including Football, Volleyball, Basketball, Handball, Cycling, and Athletics.

Despite facing challenges, including disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the program was relaunched in June 2022 when the Ministry of Sports and its partners provided equipment to the selected schools participating in the program.

The inaugural ‘Isonga Training Camp’ saw the participation of 502 children from 17 schools across Rwanda. These budding talents were trained by a team of 12 coaches and 37 trained teachers during the week-long camp at College du Christ Roi Nyanza.

Beyond honing their sporting skills, the program also emphasized civic education, encouraging the youngsters to embrace Rwandan values in their careers. Ngarambe expressed satisfaction with the camp’s outcome, praising the talented children and their promising futures.

The success of this inaugural edition has inspired plans for more training camps and expanded program implementation in additional schools. The Ministry of Sports, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, is actively exploring ways to support children who may transition to new schools not initially part of the ‘Isonga Project.’

During the closing ceremony, young students aged under 13 years showcased their talents in a demonstration football game. Elie Ariel Impano, a 13-year-old beneficiary of the Isonga-AFD program, shared his appreciation for the camp, highlighting the importance of more extensive training camps and regular competitions.

The ‘Isonga Project’ initially began in 2009 as a talent pool approach for male footballers. In 2019, it underwent revision to encompass a broader scope of sporting disciplines and include both genders. To support program implementation, the Ministry of Sports secured financing worth Euros 1.5 million from AFD. This funding will primarily be utilized for repairing and upgrading sports infrastructure in schools and training sports education teachers directly involved in the program.

The government’s vision through this initiative is to identify, nurture, and promote young talents, ensuring inclusivity and equality for boys and girls. It aims to prepare them for participation in major sporting events in the near future.

Director General Ngarambe emphasized the importance of this developmental phase, stating, “The future belongs here, and you can’t expect it when you skip the development phase.” The ‘Isonga Project’ serves as a beacon of hope for Rwanda’s aspiring young athletes, offering them the support and opportunities they need to shine on the global stage.

Rema’s ‘Calm Down’ Makes History on Streaming Platform

Nigerian artist Rema has achieved a remarkable milestone with his hit single ‘Calm Down’ featuring Selena Gomez, reaching one billion streams on Spotify. This makes him the first African lead artist to have a song reach 1 billion Spotify streams, joining the prestigious Billions Club of the platform.

Rema, whose real name is Divine Ikubor, is a 22-year-old Nigerian singer, rapper, and songwriter. He gained prominence in 2019 with his self-titled debut EP, which featured the hit single ‘Dumebi.’ Since then, he has released several other successful songs, including ‘Iron Man,’ ‘Lady,’ and ‘Bounce.’

‘Calm Down’ was released in 2022 and quickly became a fan favorite, with its catchy beat and infectious lyrics. The song’s success on Spotify is a testament to Rema’s talent and the growing popularity of Afrobeats music around the world.

Don Jazzy, the founder of Mavin Records, the label that signed Rema, congratulated the artist on his achievement. He said, “This is a huge milestone for Rema and for African music as a whole. It shows that our music is resonating with audiences around the world, and I’m proud to be a part of this movement.”

Rema’s success on Spotify is just the latest in a string of achievements for Afrobeats music in 2023. Earlier this year, Nigerian artists Burna Boy and Wizkid won Grammy Awards, and several other Afrobeats artists have been making waves on the international music scene.

As Afrobeats continues to gain popularity, it’s clear that Rema and other African artists are poised for even greater success in the years to come.

Morocco Earthquake Postpones AFCON Qualifier Match, Hearts Go Out to Victims

A devastating earthquake in Marrakech, Morocco, has had far-reaching consequences, including the postponement of a highly anticipated African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier match between Liberia and Morocco. The match was originally scheduled to take place on Saturday, September 9th, in the Moroccan city of Agadir, but the earthquake’s impact on the region forced a reconsideration.

The earthquake, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, struck near Marrakech late on Friday night, leaving a tragic toll in its wake. Reports indicate that over 1,000 lives have been lost, with more than 1,400 individuals sustaining serious injuries. The catastrophe prompted swift action and decisions from the Royal Moroccan Football Federation and the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

In a joint announcement, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation and CAF stated, “Following the earthquake that affected some regions in Morocco, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation announces the postponement of the match that was to take place on Saturday evening, September 9, 2023, between the national team and its Liberian counterpart, in the final round of the qualifiers for the 2024 African Cup of Nations – Côte d’Ivoire; until a later time, in agreement with the Confederation of African Football.”

The statement further conveyed the heartfelt condolences of the Moroccan football family to the bereaved families and expressed hope for the swift recovery of the injured. It is a somber moment for Morocco, and the nation’s football authorities have taken the compassionate decision to prioritize the well-being of their citizens.

While the match has been postponed, the Liberia Football Association (LFA) confirmed that all members of its delegation in Morocco were safe. The LFA issued a statement extending its deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to the people of Morocco in light of the devastating earthquake. The earthquake’s destructive force has left a lasting impact on the nation, and Liberia stands in solidarity with its African counterpart during this challenging period.

The LFA also reassured the families and loved ones of its delegation in Agadir, Morocco, that each member of the delegation was safe following the disaster.

Nigerian Weightlifter Ruth Ayodele Shines Bright with Three Medals at IWF World Championship

Nigerian weightlifter Ruth Ayodele etched her name in the annals of the sport by clinching three medals at the prestigious IWF World Championship held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The 23-year-old athlete’s remarkable feat brought glory to Nigeria and showcased her prowess on the international stage.

Competing in the women’s 64kg category, Ayodele’s performance was nothing short of exceptional. She secured two silver medals and one bronze, demonstrating her extraordinary abilities. In the Snatch event, she lifted an impressive 100kg, setting the tone for her remarkable campaign. Her Clean and Jerk performance saw her hoisting a formidable 122kg, further solidifying her position as a top contender. With a total lift of 222kg, Ayodele’s consistency and determination earned her another medal, securing her place in weightlifting history.

While Ayodele’s achievements were monumental, she faced formidable competition. Mosquera Llamosa of Colombia emerged as a formidable adversary, clinching three gold medals by lifting 101kg in the Snatch, 122kg in the Clean and Jerk, and 223kg in the Total category. Korea’s Minkyung Park also showcased her prowess, securing one silver and two bronze medals in the women’s 64kg.

In the women’s 59kg category, Nigeria’s Rafiatu Lawal, a 2022 Commonwealth gold medallist, displayed her dedication, finishing in the sixth position. Her lifts included 100kg in the Snatch, 125kg in the Clean and Jerk, and 225kg in the Total. Adijat Olarinoye, another talented Nigerian weightlifter, secured the 15th position with lifts of 95kg in the Snatch, 120kg in the Clean and Jerk, and 215kg in the Total.

In the men’s 73kg category, Edidiong Umoafia represented Nigeria with a strong performance. His lifts included 140kg in the Snatch, 170kg in the Clean and Jerk, and 310kg in the Total, earning him the 18th position.

Ruth Ayodele’s remarkable achievements at the IWF World Championship serve as an inspiration to aspiring sportswomen in Nigeria and around the world. Her discipline, and relentless pursuit have earned her a place among the sport’s elite.