Coach McKinstry has been appointed as the National Coach of Rwanda by the Rwanda Football Federation and the Ministry of Sports and Culture.
His appointment is with immediate effect and includes responsibility for the senior male national football team, the "Amavubi Stars". He will also have responsibility for the technical development of the national u23 and u20 mens squads, as well as providing guidance and advice on a number of matters.
His work will include preparations for the 2016 CAF CHAN Tournament, 2017 CAF Nations Cup Preliminaries, 2018 FIFA World Cup Preliminaries, CECAFA and other tournaments.
Rwanda will be hosting the African Nations Championship in January 2016, with new stadiums and facilities currently being constructed for what will be the flagship football event in Africa in 2016.
Responding to the announcement he said:
"I am very pleased to be able to accept the offer made by FERWAFA to become the new coach of the Rwandan national team. Since my time with Sierra Leone I have been seeking an opportunity that would, with my input, have potential for tangible and sustained success. In Rwanda I believe I have found that opportunity, and am pleased to have been tasked with the responsibility of guiding the Amavubi forward into CHAN 2016, which will be hosted in Rwanda, as well as in pursuit of qualification for AFCON 2017 and the 2018 World Cup in Russia."
Previously Coach McKinstry was Head Coach of the Sierra Leone National Football team. Within just 16 months (August 2014) Coach McKinstry had led Sierra Leone to their highest ever FIFA World and African rankings - 7th in Africa and 50th in the World - both well above their lowest ever ranking of 172 in 2007, an achievement hailed by Fifa.com as "remarkable".
Looking forward to the opportunities ahead for him and the Amavubi, Coach McKinstry was clear on the road ahead:
"I can assure the thousands of Amavubi supporters who fill the stands for every game and those further afield, that the players, technical staff and myself will give everything within our power to bring you success. We will work tirelessly to develop the Amavubi into a major force within African football, playing a distinctive, attacking brand of football that in time will become synonymous with Rwandan football."
Reflecting on the role that the Amavubi supporters can play in achieving that success, he said:
"I know that our supporters will play their part in the development of this new era in Rwandan football by ensuring that we make our home a fortress through their vocal support at every home game, creating an atmosphere that helps to drive our Amavubi Stars on to glory."
Asked for his views on the upcoming friendly encounter with Zambia in Lusaka next week (29th March) he said:
"This game could not come at a better time, at the very beginning of my role with Rwanda, as it will allow me to get to know both the current group of players and the existing technical staff immediately. Whilst I will provide a certain level of guidance for this encounter, the short time frame means that it will mainly allow me to observe players and staff, and their preparations and approaches to date, so that following our return to Kigali I can immediately begin my work to build and strengthen the Amavubi ahead of the upcoming qualification games."
Asked to comment on the range of interest being shown in him by teams from across Europe, Africa and the Americas he replied:
"In Rwanda, I believe I have found the opportunity, to build not only a team, but an approach to allow Rwanda football to secure real and sustained sucess over the coming years. I would however like to give a short mention to the other nations, associations and teams who have made approaches to me in recent weeks and months, and thank them for their interest. I wish them all the best for the future."
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Notes to Editors
- With this appointment, Coach McKinstry again becomes the youngest active coach in international football (now aged 29). He is likely also the youngest coach ever to have been in charge of two national teams (sierra Leone and Rwanda), both in the top 70 of the FIFA World Rankings.
- Coach McKinstry also becomes one of only 3 people from Northern Ireland to become Head Coach of more than one national football team. Others achieving this were Billy Bingham (Northern Ireland, Greece) and Billy Cook (Peru, Iraq).
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About Coach McKinstry
In 2013-14 Coach McKinstry was Head Coach and Manager of the Sierra Leone National football team (at that time the youngest active Head Coach in international football - at only 27 years of age), leading the Leone Stars to their highest ever FIFA World and CAF African Rankings. From 2010-Dec 2014 he shaped and led the Craig Bellamy Elite Soccer Academy in Sierra Leone - developing and placing elite young players in North America, Europe and Asia.
He is a European (UEFA), American (NSCAA) and university qualified football coach. Born in Northern Ireland, UK, he has extensive experience of coaching across Europe, America and Africa. He is currently completing his UEFA Pro licence with the Irish Football Association.
Further details available via www.johnnymckinstry.com/about