Thursday, 22 April 2010

Armee Patriotique Rwandaise FC (Rwanda)

Armee Patriotique Rwandaise FC, thankfully otherwise known as APR FC, are based in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, and despite only being formed in June 1993, have quickly become the most successful club in their nation's history, winning the Rwandan Premier League on ten occasions, and the Rwandan Cup four times in their short but eventful 17 year history.

The club was formed during a peace talks in the the civil war in the early 1990s, and was the team of the Rwandan Patriotic Front - a group formed by Tutsi refugees in Uganda. After the genocide in 1994, the RPF liberated the country and its leader Paul Kagame became president, and normal football business could resume. Instantly APR FC sprang to the forefront of the region's football, and there are now few trophies in the region that doesn't have their name on it.

The team play at the 10,000 capacity Amahoro Stadium in the East of the city, a location symbolic for Tutsis as it was one of the few places that they could hide from the genocidal massacre, as the UN had their headquarters in a hotel directly behind the stadium. Anywhere up to 12,000 refugees from the city were living there at any one time, so the site has a special significance for the locals. They are still ostensibly the official club of the RPF, although have a small number of players from other African nations on their books, and are managed by Dutchman Eric te Paske, a fringe player for AZ Alkmaar in the 1990s.

They've also made seven appearances in the CAF Champions League, but have never got further than the third round, back in 2004. They did however make the heights of the semi-finals of the African Cup Winner's Cup in 2003, losing to eventual winners Étoile Sportive du Sahel of Tunisia in the last ever running of the tournament. It does though have a good track record in the CECAFA Club Cup, a tournament for East and Central African teams, winning the tournament in 2004 and 2007.

Notable former players include Jimmy Gatete, known locally as The God of Goals, and believed to the most prolific goalscorer in Rwandan history, Olivier Karekezi, who went on to play for Helsingborgs IF and Östers IF in Sweden, Jimmy Mulisa, who has done the rounds in Belgium, and Ugandan Abubaker Tabula, also currently plying his trade in Sweden.

And if you pay a visit to their website, try tracking down their team song, because it's a right blaster!

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