The other alarm: Taking care of refurbished stadium
Pundits raised a hue and cry in the past week when it became impossible to play a league tie at the refurbished National Stadium, with an artificial turf not accompanied by a proper drainage network.
When it heavily rained on Thursday a Premier League tie had to be postponed as the pitch was unusable, despite that the problem should have been taken care of.
Can it be expected that the Tanzania Football Federation would have learnt its lesson and could rectify the problem?
Chances that this would be the case are few, since the situation isn’t new, and it extends into whatever issue that falls in their horizon of duty, that the TFF is perennially short of money.
It was for this reason that Taifa Stars coach Marcio Maximo said sometimes last year that he would ask President Jakaya Kikwete to privatize sports facilities, so as to improve their usability and also raise income that can help improve sports in general. Funding youth teams is one such area.
In these days of the hunt after ‘fisads’ as well as the hue and cry about two major redevelopment projects, it is hard to see how far that idea could go – and indeed it is unlikely that JK has never had time to think about it, or the answers he settled for.
There is no stomach in the country to hand over the National Stadium to a private manager, or for that matter to make the stadium such investor’s property, with a contractual provision that it would be available whenever the government or its agencies had use of it. But some costing breakdown would also be added thereof.
The more complicated issue is the Nyamagana Stadium redevelopment question, which was ruled out by ex-Lands minister John Magufuli, who has been shifted to another ministry, and one can`t say if this tension in Mwanza contributed to the shuffle.
Local authorities there feel that the CCM Kirumba Stadium suffices for most league needs, and certain teams say in factories have their pitches, and in some quarters there are open spaces where teams of another division can play.
But “stakeholders” will have nothing of it; that is public open space, leave it at that�.To a certain extent, that same problem is likely to be felt later in Dar es Salaam, after the major stadium is opened, and then there will be three acknowledged stadia in town, the Ben Mkapa Stadium, the old National Stadium and the Ilala Stadium, or otherwise known as the Karume Memorial Stadium.
Lately Taifa Stars were pictured training there, and the ground looked well kept; a private developer could easily improve stands to make viewing more comfortable, and the stadium more profitable.
Ashanti, the nearby side could have it as home, or the other two.
When TFF can`t maintain one national stadium which is far less demanding in its facilities, how can it be expected to maintain another major stadium that is far more demanding in its facilities – along with the older stadium it can hardly manage now?
Isn’t it evident that this will be too much of a burden on the TFF, not due to its resources per se, but rather its administrative capacity assuming that its sources of cash will remain roughly the same? Is it relevant to listen to the coach?
There is however one difference between the Mwanza atmosphere and the wish to redevelop Nyamagana Stadium, and the National Stadium, that the regions have in the past decades proved far more dynamic to organize activities like building of stadia, unlike Dar es Salaam.
Many regions put up new stadia or revamped those built earlier, either at independence or quite before it, including Arusha, Mwanza, Iringa, Mbeya, Tabora, Bukoba, etc unlike Dar es Salaam.
So the tendency to sleep and wait for the government or ‘sponsors’ to bring in the money for stadia implies that no one will have an idea of redeveloping the National Stadium, after the new stadium starts being used, as it will largely become redundant for league ties.
So the pundits should brace for both an irrelevant National Stadium that only waits for some auxiliary activities that would at present take place at the Karume Memorial Stadium, like training for Taifa Stars, just to appear to make use of the pitch.
The national side could settle in camp anywhere, as it has often used the Sheikh Amri Abeid Memorial Stadium in Arusha, and at times even the pitch of the University of Dar es Salaam.
There is no shortage of usable premises for such need.
Despite the clearly evident relevance of the worries raised by Maximo on the need to place sports facilities in private hands – and then expect that club organization would follow suit, as that is a hard nut to crack – we are likely to retain the lethargy.
As in Mwanza, any idea to put the stadia in private hands shall see a flurry or reporting as to who is going to gain, whom he bribed in the local authorities or other levels to get the tender, why this should be probed and heads roll, etc.
At the same time, traditionalists will remember the big things that took place at the old National Stadium as in Nyamagana, like the Independence parade or viewing the late Mwalimu Nyerere’s body in 1999.
How on earth could it thus be “redeveloped“?