Year with practically nothing to show for

Despite that there were constantly some complaints in the past in relation to soccer, that we used or continually to be a starter’s opponent, things improved somewhat in the past few years, but nothing durable seems to have been attained.

At any rate that was welcome respite in relation to the most popular game not just here but in many countries in the world, and in that respect we have ‘developed’ quite much, since our youths know by heart most top England premier league clubs, their players and positions, and what is going on in that regard. Outside that metropolitan familiarity with things outside, there is little we have achieved.

Until 2005 at the very most, during the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England our country used to be counted among those whose athletes can put substantive competition world class meets, though not the topmost level. We have never been a force to reckon with in Olympic Games or the Amateur International Athletics Federation, or later the world championships in athletics.

This we have left to our neighbours and brethren in Kenya and Ethiopa, and to an extent Uganda, though we are dotted with a longer portion of that Rift Valley phenomenon which gives them their best long distance and even middle distance runners; it is sad.

That is one area where little has been said as to where the country stands in sport, first because there is too much attention given to soccer in general, to the local premier league and finally to the city club rivals for there to remain sufficient time to discuss much else.

At the same time, we rapidly tend to individualise issues for instance the perennial call to ‘start preparations early,’ whereas there is little infrastructure to nurture talent from schools onwards, and little motivation even where the talent is available, to excel, as frustrations accompany athletes all the way. There is a semblance of activity in individual games like boxing, or just that.

While efforts to hire professional coaches – meaning foreigners – has since 2005 focused on Taifa Stars and privately, among the leading clubs, only Twiga Stars has attained a slightly noticeable position regionally, as it has been able to find a comfortable position in tourneys across two years at least.

Taifa Stars has had some sporadic success in the sense of resilience before much better placed national sides, from the Marcio Maximo period to the present, but has faced considerable inconsistency in player selection, assailed by bickering by factions in TFF. Their latest achievement was to have local coaches for KiliStars, a carbon copy of Taifa Stars.

It can be discussed why we seem to be registering success among other southern African states when it comes to women soccer, in ways that are scarcely rivaled by the men’s side.

The probable reason is the newness of the game in which case Tanzania may have benefited from the work of a woman enthusiast who brought the girls to like the game in schools, etc – and a coach who is psychologically tuned to take them forward. But the underlying reason is still hard to find, as Tanzania isn’t the most metropolitan state in the sub-region, in which case it couldn’t have the highest rate of women’s emancipation, to throw away inhibitions and play.

As the New Year beckons it is hard to say where we might start doing better next year, if older capacity to at least show some talent in athletics is on the way to being restored, or the present slide is permanent. Caution requires one to say there will be little improvement, simply because household conditions of higher income and better nutrition are unlikely to be noticed except for a section of upper class families.

That’s it.

SOURCE: GUARDIAN ON SUNDAY

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