Tapping talents at the grassroots very vital

For many years now, Tanzania has abysmally failed to develop talent at the grassroots level in many sports, most notably in football.

Thankfully though, this disturbing trend took a turn for the better a few years ago when the inaugural Copa Coca-Cola U-17 football tournament took place, much to the delight of football stakeholders in the country.

Hot on the heels of the Copa Coca-Cola championship came the revival of the UMISETA Games, which features secondary schools from across the country competing against one another in a variety of sports.

Interestingly, an evolving aspect of the annual games is the rivalry between different regions and as long as this does not get out of hand, such rivalries indicate that the youngsters are taking the spectacle seriously, which can only be good in the grand scheme of things.

Having said all this though, a few problems are emerging from the UMISETA Games. For instance, as the national netball team coach Mary Protas pointed out earlier this week, secondary school teachers need to receive instructions in the rudiments of netball so that they can expertly equip their students with knowledge of the sport.

Indeed, one could go even further here and suggest that secondary school teachers should receive instructions in the rudiments of all sports that make up our domestic sporting landscape so that they will be better placed to help their students master the different sports.

Another problem that emerged from the games is the fact that some young athletes ran bare foot during some of the events, which is really a crying shame.

Certainly, if we have reached the stage where our athletes are allowed to run barefoot in a race, then it could be argued that we have completely shot ourselves in the foot! It cannot be disputed that such grave mistakes only serve to work against our efforts to transform our great country into a sporting powerhouse.

Nevertheless, despite these concerns, it has to be acknowledged that grassroots development, which was an idea once so alien in our sporting arena, is increasingly taking centre-stage in Tanzanian sports.

And for that, all aficionados of sports in the country can only be grateful.

Lloyd Elipokea is a sports



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