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3 April 2014
VOLLEYBALL is one of the most popular and consistent sports in Rwanda. Fifteen years ago it produced one of the best players in recent times, Eric Nsabimana aka ‘Machine’ among the volleyball fraternity.
The former Kigali Volleyball Club (KVC) captain works as an Urban Planner at the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA).
The four-time league title winner weighs 90kgs and measures 1.87m in height.
CAVB.org caught up with, the 30-year-old Rayon Sports player for an interview. Below are the excerpts
Who is Eric ‘Machine’ Nsabimana?
I was born on August 11, 1983 in Nyarugenge District to Sylvain Zihezose (RIP) and Odette Mukankusi. My father passed away in 1998. I’ m the second born in a family of six children. We are two boys and four girls.
I went to EP Kimisagara, EPA and Camp Kigali primary school. Later I joined Byimana School of Science for O and A level before enrolling at National University of Rwanda, NUR (currently the University of Rwanda- College of Arts and Social Sciences) for a degree in Geography and Environmental Management.
How did you start playing volleyball?
In primary school, I used to play different games but mainly football. Before going to secondary school, I never thought I could join volleyball and become the player I’m today.
When I joined Byimana School of Science, volleyball was the most popular sport, and through a close friend called Sylvestre Mbaza, I picked interest in volleyball. Since then, I have never looked back.
Unfortunately, we didn’t win any title when I was at Byimana because the likes of Saint Joseph Kabgayi, GSO Butare, Christ Roi Nyanza, College Inyemeramihigo Gisenyi and GS Gahini were superior to us.
Who is your role-model in Rwandan volleyball?
Ambassador Jean Pierre Karabaranga (Rwanda’s ambassador in Netherlands) is my role-model and mentor. He helped me develop my career after he signed for NUR back in 2002.
Any role you wish to play in developing the sport in the country?
I would love to play a part in developing Rwandan volleyball. Something like what former player Alexis Mbaraga is doing at APR. He is contributing a lot in grooming young players across the country.
Tell us about your career success and titles won?
After completing my secondary school at Byimana, I joined the then league side Amasata volleyball club for one season of 2001/2002. We didn’t win anything until I left for NUR in late 2002.
After joining NUR volleyball club then coached by Ambassador Karabaranga, things changed for me as two years later, we went on to win the league title in 2004. KVC won the league title in 2002, 2003 and 2005.
In 2004, we (NUR) represented the country at the African club championships in Benin and we finished fourth.
We again won the league in 2006, a year in which we swept all titles on the local scene.
After graduating from University in 2007, I joined KVC. I was made the team captain and featured for them for two seasons (2008 and 2009) but won nothing until I rejoined NUR in 2010 where we went on to win the league title for the first time since 2006.
APR won the title three times in a row from 2007 to 2009 before winning it again in 2011 and 2012.
‘Machine’ once again captained and led the varsity club to the league title last year.
How about your role in the national team?
I received my first call up to the senior national team in 2001 and I have been part of the team ever since. The only major competition I missed was the recent 2014 FIVB World Cup qualifiers held in Cameroon.
What can fans expect from you with Rayon Sports?
We have set ourselves a target of finishing in the top two of the ongoing national league but as the captain, my major aim is to lead Rayon Sports to the title in their first season. I am convinced it is possible.
I have a two-year contract, after which I plan to retire from playing. Rayon Sports is my last club.
Rayon lost to rivals APR, what does it mean to you?
The defeat to APR means we still have a lot to do, a lot to correct and a lot to learn. We need to be consistent if we want to win the title because the likes of APR, INATEK and KVC are serious contenders.
Do you plan to become a coach one day?
Yes, when I retire from playing, I want to continue helping the Rwandan volleyball to grow. I also want to coach and contribute more to the sport that has given me so much joy and an opportunity to travel to different countries.
Which players have you enjoyed playing with?
I enjoyed playing with all my teammates in different clubs but if I am to pick, I would mention Jean Luc Ndayikengurukiye, Eugene Kayijamahe, Benjamin Kangabo and Elie Mutabazi.
According to you, who is the most promising player currently?
With no doubt, last year’s Most Valuable Player (MVP), Olivier Ntagengwa is the most promising. He is a disciplined guy and always fights for improvement.
By Richard Bishumba
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