The RPF Chairman, H.E President Paul Kagame on Tuesday, March 14, received the CAF President’s Outstanding Achievement Award 2022 in a ceremony held in Kigali.
The awarding ceremony preceded the 73rd FIFA Congress that takes place this week.
The award was an occasion to celebrate African leaders who made meaningful contributions to the development of football in Africa.
The Chairman was presented the award by CAF President, Dr. Patrice Motsepe, who was flanked by Gianni Infantino, the FIFA President.
Besides the RPF Chairman, also awarded was the Moroccan King Mohammed VI.
The awarding night gala was attended by top football executives from FIFA, CAF and other confederations and member associations as well as football legends among many other attendees.
“I want to express our deepest thanks for the honor of receiving the CAF President's Outstanding Achievement Award. We appreciate the recognition; we appreciate the honor,” President Kagame said.
The head of state reiterated that football has a special place in Rwandan history, given the role it has played reuniting Rwandans and bringing them together again after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
“Months before the tragedy happened here in 1994, there was a lot of fighting, there was a history of sectarianism and so forth. One of the things that always comes at the top that people clang to, that kept bringing us together was sports and particularly football,” he said.
Even after the tragic situation, he said, all young people wanted to do was "go out there and play football."
“When we took over after that situation, I want to say that one of the things that we invested in was football. There were so many needs, so many priorities which we wouldn’t imagine to involve football, but we made sure that, through the Ministry of Sports, we enable our young people among other priorities to play football,” he further noted.
The Chairman admits that, despite the fact that Rwandans love football, there is still a long way to go just like the likes of World Cup 2022 semifinalists Morocco have done.
“I still have one of the disappointments, like in other areas. We have played football; we have paid attention to it but we are still not where we want to be,” he said.
“But with your presence here, with the efforts and promises made through CAF and FIFA and all friends around, we wish we should be very soon where we want to be and we are following in the footsteps these other brothers and sisters of our continent of Africa who are already making it to that high level of global standing."
Speaking during the awarding ceremony, Motsepe commended Kagame and King Mohammed VI’s commitment to promoting football.
“It’s a great honor for us in Africa, for the whole 54 nations on the continent, we recognize your commitment and the good work that you are doing,” he said.
“We want to encourage, motivate and also inspire all the other heads of state because this recognition is also here to thank other nations, heads of state, other governments who are making contributions to the partnership that is required to make sure that football in every country grows and succeeds,” he added.