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IMIKEKE is a football team that is made up by men who were friends and used to be national team players. It started in 1990 and it was made up of young men that were friends, but in that period in Rwanda, it was not allowed for people who were more than two to meet except during sports occasions due to the fact that it was seen as if the people in the group would be up to something, maybe being against the government. Given the situation, the young men decided to meet up during their sport time, because it was the only occasion for them to meet up. And later on, it became a tradition of their own, where they started from friendship, to a team and finally, a big family. IMIKEKE football team meets with other teams and plays at UMUMENA stadium, Nyamirambo.

IMIKEKE team uniform

We are not a team, but a family” said Bizimana Ephrem, the president of IMIKEKE team when he was being asked on the history of the team. They started playing football as a sport and some of them did not even know how to play football. The members of the team continued to meet and later on decided to have a name for their team. Different kinds of names were proposed, but one of the team members, Alfred proposed the name ‘IMIKEKE’ which is a Kinyarwanda word that means ‘one who is wise and looks far beyond in life’. They took the name because it was similar to their life experience as friends who were wise enough to stick together even though the situation did not allow them to.

“It was challenging to take the risk of meeting up as a group at that time for it was not allowed. Apart from that, it was also hard to make a full team.” said the president of IMIKEKE team, Bizimana Ephrem.

Bizimana Ephrem, president of IMIKEKE team.

Many of the team members were professional national team players in division 1. After retiring, they played football to socialize with other people through the teams they met up with.

“We don’t play for winning , but for socialization. It is not only about playing, It is also about helping each other during bad and good times.” said Sembagari Jean, a former Rayon Sport team member who is now a coach of IMIKEKE team.

Sembagari Jean, a coach for IMIKEKE team

Not only is football the game that some professional footballers within the group used to play, but it is also a sport that they have in common.

“Playing football keeps our bodies healthy and strong since we are getting older.” said Nshimiyimana Jean Bosco, the captain of IMIKEKE team.

Nshimiyimana Jean Bosco, the captain of IMIKEKE team

“The team broadens our relationship and it continuously opens many opportunities in our daily life activities since our primary objective is to socialize with other people as we continue to play the game we used to play when we were young professional footballers” said Bizimana Ephrem, the president of IMIKEKE team.

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