The 2016 Africa National Championship (CHAN) kicked off on Saturday at the Amahoro Stadium in Rwanda, where HE, President Paul Kagame and CAF and acting FIFA president Issa Hayatou were in attendance to declare the games officially open.
Over 16 million USD was injected into the continental championship where 16 teams will go head-to-head for the golden cup and bragging rights.
The hosts managed to open the games with a crucial 1 – 0 win against Ivory Coast for their local fans.
With most infrastructural developments that are made for international games, much controversy arises with regards to how best to make sure the investments will be able to benefit the host country.
“We have invested some money for the CHAN but other money which was invested in the stadium, was invested because it was planned to continue to develop some infrastructure around the country,” said Emmanuel Bugingo, Vice Chairman, CHAN organising committee.
And they plan to continue in other areas of the country the vice chairman said.
Tickets are being printed from Rwanda and while the design and the papers were both from outside the country, they too are being printed from the country.
Rwanda waived visa fees for all nationals from the competing counties in the games to further encourage fan support and in the hopes that other countries in future follow in their example.
“People who will be coming for the CHAN, during the CHAN period, they will be receiving their visa upon their arrival at the airport – the visa fee was waived during that period,” said Bugingo.
The stadiums will also continue to be used after the games to host national league competitions so maintenance is something that will be prioritised Bugingo emphasized.
“Each stadium has an owner who will maintain it, all stadiums are built in different districts and the district is a representative local authority there – they have budget and within their budget they will plan for maintenance.”
Some concerns have been raised about how football gets more priority and investment than other sports.
“What I know in principle is that we support all sport disciplines equally but I agree we invest more in football because of two reasons…”
Firstly he states is that football is better organised at an international level in that he feels there is sufficient notice for the sport unlike with others and that short notice that comes from other sports makes it hard to budget for, secondly, “football is the most preferred from the ministry”.
The games will run from 16 January 2016 to 7 February 2016 at Amahoro stadium, Huye stadium, Kigali Regional stadium and Rubavu stadium.