09 November 2012

RWANDA : Thompson makes his case


Thompson, seen here in action against Burundi during the 2009 Zone V championships held in Kigali, says is opposed to the idea of using many 'foreigners'. The New Times/File.
NATIONAL basketball team star Rob Thompson has come out to clear the air regarding his status and future on the team, saying he has done more than just playing for the country.
Reacting to a story published on Wednesday about the issue of ‘non-Rwandans’ and their future on the national team, the 30-year old big center came out guns blazing while making a strong case for his position on the team.
Times Sport ran a story saying that the days of non-Rwandan players, majority being America-born and Congolese are all but over, quoting Rwanda basketball federation secretary general Richard Mutabazi.

Legitimate Rwandan
But in defence of his position not only on the national team but also Rwandan basketball in general, Thompson, a legitimately naturalised Rwandan said, “It’s funny that this article just came out because the President of FERWABA informed me in July that I was the only one who would be invited back.”
“On top of that, I only signed 1 contract in 6 years unless my signature has been forged. I have been advocating since 2007 that we should not play with so many foreigners. I repeat, SINCE 2007!!!!!” he told Times Sport from Michigan (U.S).
The former CSK player, who is currently playing for CS Gaz Metan Mediaş in the Romanian Basketball League, noted that his contribution to Rwandan basketball since 2007 goes beyond just playing for the national team.
He said, “I was legitimately naturalised and have flown from other jobs to play for Rwanda. In 2009, I was infuriated about how many foreigners played for the team.”
“Ask any local player if I didn’t fight to make sure they got paid what they wanted. Hell, I even tried to help out the Girls National Team. On top of that, I flew to Rwanda to run clinics that I paid for out of my own pocket,” revealed the player, who is married to a Rwandan wife.
He, however, did not go into details regarding who he was referring to when he talks of many ‘foreigners’ on the team.
Thomson was a member of the team that in 2007 qualified for the first African championship in Rwandan history and also played a key role when the team finished ninth at the 2009 FIBA Africa Championships.

Truth out
Some of the Americans based players, who have featured for Rwanda include; Manix Auriantal, Edouard Miller, Kenneth, Cameron Bradley, and Mathieu Miller among others.

According to Mutabazi, most of them were getting up to US$15,000 (approx. Rwf9.8m) for every competition. This amount did not include bonuses.

But despite the official distancing himself from the reported figures, the truth had already come and whether the federation stops or continues to use more ‘foreigners’ on both the men and women’s teams than locals, only time will tell.

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