Vince Ruhumuliza reached out to Athletes Abroad on Twitter just a day after our launch and told us about how he has been trying to help improve the quality of volleyball in Rwanda. We could instantly tell he is very passionate about what he is doing; a humble guy with good intentions. Being an athlete himself, we could relate and were inspired to help and take action. We believe it’s both important and rewarding for athletes to go beyond the sport itself. To give back and see athletes helping athletes is something we are striving to do and encourage others to do as well. We are so excited to work with Vince and display his cause! Read his story and learn more about how you can help reach his goal for Rwanda.
@AthletesAbroad1 nice idea. I’m in Rwanda trying to help the quality of volleyball,mainly beach volleyball.
— Vince Ruhumuliza (@VinceRuhu) January 3, 2014
We even learned via his Volleyball 4 Rwanda account that Volleywood did a write up about him and his project:
— Volleywood (@Volleyw00d) August 26, 2013
Describe who you are and a little about your beach volleyball career
My name is Vincent Ruhumuliza, I am a lower level beach volleyball professional. I have been playing beach volleyball since I was 13, growing up in Michigan along Lake Michigan. It has been a passion of mine since my first tournament.
I have played in a lot of volleyball tournaments all over Florida, from the big sponsored tournaments in Fort Lauderdale and Clearwater, to the small off season tournaments run by my friends on St. Pete Beach. This sport of beach volleyball is truly a lifestyle, I would say would be the most similar to the surfing lifestyle, and I absolutely live for it and love it.
What is Volleyball for Rwanda?
Volleyball for Rwanda is my project I have decided to tackle here in the country of Rwanda. My overall goal is to build an Olympic level volleyball venue, both indoor and my favorite, beach volleyball; it will also be connected to a wellness center for sports rehab and other health related things.
My idea is to make Rwanda known on an international scale for something other than the horrific 1994 Genocide. Rwandans are very proud and incredibly athletic, so the sport of volleyball is a perfect fit for this country.
I am half Rwandan, kind of the definition of African American actually. My dad grew up in a small village or town called Gitwe, where he persevered in studies to pursue health studies. My mom, small town Michigan girl, actually visited Rwanda for a missionary trip thirty plus years ago as a nurse, and on that trip she met my dad, and a few months later they were married, in Rwanda with a marriage certificate in French.
So that brings me the present, my parents have been here in Rwanda for a little over two years now, working with health organizations. My mom is working with the Clinton Foundations globalized health care, and my dad, native to Rwanda, is the Advisor to the Director of Nursing for two major hospitals in Kigali, the capitol of Rwanda. Having both my parents here in Africa gave me the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone in Florida and try something new, and it also gives me the chance to travel to new places and get that amazing rush of travel and going some places I might never ever get a chance to see again later in life. Also, it gives me a chance to connect with family members that would maybe never get a chance to travel to the US, like my cousins and more importantly my dad’s parents, my grandparents.
My grandpa and grandma
Where does beach volleyball in Rwanda stand now?
Beach volleyball in Rwanda is pretty much nonexistent, and that truly hurts to say out loud. There is an interesting lack of understanding of the sport of beach volleyball. The first time I went in to a meeting to talk about building a beach volleyball court, I was looked at like I had something on my face. This boggled my mind because Rwanda has a pretty organized and talented indoor national volleyball team. It is a common thought here that if you don’t have an actual beach, with water and sand, that you can’t have a beach volleyball court. I am here to change that, I am working on importing truck loads of sand and developing a court in the capitol to have an example of the standard of a beach volleyball court, as well as an example to show the Ministry of Sports, so I can move on and hope for help with funding.
The “beach” volleyball court (actually dirt volleyball)
What is your vision?
My vision for Volleyball for Rwanda is to help bring this sport to the forefront of recognition when it comes to sports in this region and continent of Africa. I will teach the youth the proper rules and way to play volleyball and show that it can be a tool to travel and get out of the country of Rwanda as an athlete. The day I see Rwanda in the Olympics for volleyball and know that I had a hand in producing that success, I will be on cloud nine.
How can we and others help?
In all seriousness any and all help is welcome, I would love to receive nets, volleyballs, any donations, and for the word to spread what is happening in this part of the world focusing on volleyball.
If any university or group would like to travel and help with the building of the facility and/or youth clinics, I would be more than happy to organize and make that happen. I have already contacted a couple small universities that have programs for work mission trips about getting a group of young adults to come and visit and experience Rwanda and help out with my project, as soon as winter 2014.
Any kind of fund raising events or volleyball tournaments in the States would be amazing as well, which is hard to organized being half a world away, but I would be willing to help in any way that I could.
Really, all I want in the end is for people to acknowledge that there are athletes doing amazing things all over the world, and it should be recognized.
Follow me on Twitter at @VBforRwanda
Find me on Facebook Volleyball for Rwanda
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read my blog volleyballforrwanda.blogspot.com/
Website coming soon!
— Volleyball 4 Rwanda (@VBforRwanda) November 15, 2013