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Date: 6/28/2017

For the first time in eight years APR have won the Rwandan men’s league championship, after defeating a strong Police HBC 37:28 in Kimisagara – a district in the Rwandan capital of Kigali.


APR - Arme Patriotique Rwandais (Rwanda Patriotic Army) – are a multi-sports club consisting of football, volleyball, basketball, netball and athletics as well as handball, which was formed in 2007.


After winning their first league title in 2009, they have been unable to recapture the top spot since but in a dramatic end to the long league season, the final game became a title decider with all the pressure on APR to prevent reigning champions and the unbeaten Police, coached by Antoine Ntabanganyimana, from securing their fourth title in a row.


However, they defeated their traditional rivals on Sunday (25 June), coming from second place in the league - and two points behind their opponents – to take the honours, easing to a nine-goal win to become the first new champions in the past three seasons.


APR Coach Anaclet Bagirishya had Alexis Nshimiyimana to thank specifically as the left back struck 10 times to inflict defeat on the Police side for the first time this season.


The result left both teams on 53 points, but APR grabbed the title thanks to their head-to-head record, as the Police could only manage a 40:38 win in their first game. The championship consists of 10 teams playing each other twice (18 games in total) over the course of the season.


The league title means that APR – who claimed a domestic treble after their ‘Rwanda Cup; and ‘Heroes’ Day’ titles earlier in the season – will gain entry to the Confederation of African Handball (CAHB) Champions League next season.


“We are only full of excitement and this season has been unique to the club,” said Bagirishya to local press after the victory. “The title win after such a long period, came at the time when we were celebrating 10 years since the club was established - it is really remarkable.


“The officials put much effort into strengthening the team before the start of the season and we aimed to win the title this season, I am very thankful to my players who showed sheer determination all season.”


Coach Bagirishya – an IHF case study


APR Coach Anaclet Bagirishya started playing handball in 1997 while still at Primary School, before singing for Butamwa HC in 2000 and then moving to Police HBC in 2002. In 2005, he moved to play for SFB HC and then in 2009 he moved again, to APR HC.


It was at SFB, while playing, that he started his coaching career, in 2007 with the school-based team Groupe Scolaire RILIMA. He later completed his first coaching course at the 2010 IHF Challenge Trophy Zone V in Kigali and another IHF course in 2011 – with the [email protected] project, before moving to the Kimisagara Training Centre.


In 2012, he successfully completed his Advanced Coaching Course during the IHF Challenge Trophy in Nairobi, Kenya while coaching the women’s team of the Gorillas Handball Club as well as assistant coaching duties for the U20 national team at the same IHF Trophy competition.


He then studied at the University of Leipzig, gaining his International Coaching Diploma and B Licence from the German Handball Federation. The next role was as Head Coach of Police HBC and assistant of the U19 women’s national team during the CAHB African Women’s Junior Championship in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Bagirishya then completed his German Olympic Committee (DOSB) Advanced Coaching Course in Kigali.


Away from coaching, Bagirishya worked as a young reporter at the 2015 IHF Men’s World Championship in Qatar as part of the AIPS/IHF partnership programme. The programme saw a large group of journalists around the world mentored by the IHF media team and AIPS representatives in Doha as they provided flash quotes, features and videos, alongside match previews and reviews.