As we have already announced in the previous issue of the AIPS Magazine, sport in Burundi is ready to be reborn after some quite difficult years caused by the war.
Let us have a look at the results of the first nine months in football, the number one sport in Burundi.
In January 2005, an exciting tournament was held among the eleven countries which belong the CECAFA (Confederation of East African Football), one of the regional groups of the African Football Confederation.
These countries are: Burundi, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda and Zanzibar.
The competition lasted two weeks and was held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Abeba with the participation of the national teams of the above mentioned countries. Burundi won the silver medal, losing only in the final 4-1 against the host country, Ethiopia.
In April 2005, FIFA President Joseph Blatter visited Burundi and promised the significant support of his organisation to the Football Federation in Burundi.
On July 9 and 10 , 2005, during the International Sports Journalists Day the Football Federation in Burundi, in cooperation with other associations such as, for example the Sports Journalists Association in Burundi (AJSB) organised the Fazil Malikonge jubilee, better known as “Malik Jabir”. Malik is a famous football personality in Burundi who led his club Vital’o to the Cup Winners‘ African Cup final in 1992 before retiring from international competion in 1993.
During this jubilee matches were organised among past and present Vital’o players many of them expatriated from Europe. They were joined by the candidate to the presidential elections in August 2005 who became Chief of the State on August 26.
A physical education and sports teacher by profession, the new chief of state declared that he wished to attach a high importance to the promotion and practice of all branches of sports.
At the end of August 2005, another tournament between the junior football teams was held in Zanzibar, also in the framework of CECAFA, with its eleven member countries.
Like their senior team, the junior Burundian players reached the final, losing against Ethiopia 5-4 on a penalty shoot-out..
The national football season ended in October when the Burundian players returned to the continental scene in different inter-club competitions, after four years of absence. Another CECAFA tournament for the junior national teams was held in November in Kigali, Rwanda.
Another task is to prepare the national senior team for the qualifying heats of the 2008 African Cup of Nations. We note that the FFB President, Mrs Lydia Nsekera has taken part in the FIFA Congress, organised for the first time in the African continent, in Marrakech, Morocco.
Another event of great importance is the Basketball Tournament of the Great Lakes which was held in Bujumbura from September 30 to 2 October.
This brought together the mens and womens teams of five countries in the region: Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, DR Congo and Uganda. The tournament was led by the Burundian teams. “Urunani” defeated “Dynamon” in the men’s category 69-65 while “Berco Stars” won the women’s trophy 59-45 against “Copines”.
In Bujumbura basketball has become the second most popular sport after its rival, football which is practised all over the country.