The national men’s team will be banking on homeground advantage to retain the title at the 2013 Sit-ball Volleyball World Championship set for October 11-12 at the National Paralympics Committee Indoor Stadium in Kigali.
Though optimistic, coach Elia Manirarora is wary of the challenge. He said: “We have had enough preparations ahead of this month’s tournament and we will be looking forward to retain the title.
“I am convinced we will win matches but the title talk will come in the later stages of the tournament.
“My players are ready and experienced. They know what it takes to be a champion in the sport. We want to make Rwanda as well as the Paralympics family in the country proud.”
Rwanda will face stiff challenge for the title against Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Switzerland, Uganda and two German teams.
Three years ago, Rwanda won both the men’s and women’s world titles in Kampala. Rwanda ‘A’ men beat Germany 21-20 in a thrilling final while the women had a much easier task as they thrashed hosts Uganda 33-8.
The success earned them a spot at last year’s London Paralympic Games, where they became the first sub-Saharan African team to win a sitting volleyball match in the Games when they beat Morocco 3-1. Rwanda was nonetheless already out of the medal bracket.
Rwanda is among 11 countries where sit-ball is played in East Africa and in Europe. The sport was introduced in the country in 2005 when German Holger Voll trained the local Paralympic team, which was then invited to participate in the 22nd European Championship of Sit-ball on June 17-18 of that year.
Rwanda was given the task of establishing teams in the neighbouring countries and hosted the first World Cup in 2006 in Kigali which was won by Germany.
Rwanda organised the second World Cup in 2008, which Germany again won. Rwanda would defeat the two-time world champions in 2010.