Jean Claude Henry Mugirizimana, 9, stays in Kiyovu town, a suburb of the capital city in Rwanda, Kigali.

The primary five pupil at Nanny and Dolls elementary school loves to play and watch football.

It was on a Television advertisement of CHAN 2016 that he learnt Rwanda would host the event.

He then politely sweet talked to the mother about how he could serve the tournament as a ball boy.

Luckily, the mother was positive as she inquired about the procedure from the federation officials and the son was given the chance.

He was taken through the necessary training for one week before the tournament kicked off.

Mugirizimana is among the 100 ball boys employed across the four venues that hosted the tournament (Huye,Amahoro, Ruvabu and Nyamirambo).

With a smile flashing across his face he briefly elucidates about how his day moves about on a typical match day;

We are now in school holidays. Mum (mother) wakes me up at 8 a.m. I then have a shower, brush and prepare myself. At noon, we have lunch before I go to the Amahoro stadium by 1:30 p.m where I meet the head of ball boys and all my other friends. We are then briefed what to do before the match starts

Among the duties that ball boys execute is help to carry the team flags as the teams walk to the field of play.

They also make sure they provide the balls to the field of play once out to avoid the necessary delays.

12 year old Muhammed Kassim, who was employed at the Umuganda stadium believes working at CHAN 2016 has provided him the opportunity to keep his dreams of playing at such a tournament.

“From what I have seen, I want to be like these players who are playing at CHAN 2016. I want to play for my country when I grow up and become a famous footballer” he dreams.

Every half time, the ball boys re-group to review how the work was done before continuing with their respective tasks for the second half.

Mugirizimana then narrates the final procedure;

After the match we collect all the balls and hand them to our head. He then gives us the final briefing before each person returns to their places of residence

Ball boys, just like golf caddies or altar boys once well-handled live to achieve their lifetime dreams when they make the final break-through.

David Isabirye is a senior staff writer for Kawowo Sports where he covers most of the major events.

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