To win you need to invest
Tanzania is a sports-loving country, particularly in relation to football. But other countries also say that for example Senegal, Egypt, Nigeria, Zambia and even our neighbours, Kenya and Uganda.
We are also a nation obsessed with winning and love our winners. We have no time for losers whom we normally criticise and look down on. We believe in winning, but our winning at all costs remains empty words because we invest very little and expect huge rewards on the little, we do invest. We should spend more for example on football, volleyball, basketball and individual sports – athletics and track and field.
Without such investment it will be very difficult if not impossible, to produce another Filbert Bayi, Suleiman Nyambui. Nzael Kyoma. Gidemus Shahanga, to mention a few world-renowned athletes from our ranks. We will continue to watch by the side-lines as national anthems ring across the globe on various platforms. At last year’s Feassa (Federation of East Africa Secondary Schools Association) sports, as the host country, we had far less participants than those from Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda who brought together the largest contingent of over 1000 participants.
Of all the participating countries, we probably had the only contingent that participated in the fewest array of sports. Other teams brought table and lawn tennis teams, swimmers, badminton, chess, squash and many indoor games besides the ball games and field games in athletics. The reasons, the administrators say, is due to budget and beyond their call.
We were routinely beaten in Arusha at last year’s Feassa games and our other team faired rather poorly in Morocco.
There was insufficient media coverage given to Feassa or to the 9th All African Games in Morocco. Feassa is the breeding ground of sports in schools and so needs exposure. In the old days Umitashumta, Umiseta, Shimivuta and Shimiwi was the source from where players rose up through and became top athletes.
The coverage in print media is limited to where Tanzania has won. There was a lot of social media coverage on Tanzania’s performance during these tournaments and online debates including some saying that Tanzania’s performance was not good for example saying: watanzania waburuza mkia (Tanzanians pull the tail). Some of this criticism was very harsh.
Also, a lot of the coverage online did not explain the venues where the events were being held, the identity of the different games involved, a timetable of where and when. There were no visible street signs not even outside the Sheikh Karume Stadium in Arusha – a key tourist town. Tourists, if they knew, could visit the stadium for example.
I remember from my time as Executive member of the Tanzania Amateur Volleyball Federation (TAVA) and organiser of the Tanzania Bonite Volleyball tournament we used to be very aggressive to sell our sports calendar to locals. During the Bonite in Moshi, the whole city would be talking about Volleyball, the double road in Moshi would be filled with banners, people would be given fliers and all Radio Stations would report about Bonite – the awareness of Tanzanians and neighbouring countries such as Kenya about Volleyball was massive.
We do not invest but we want winners. In the run-up to major sports events Radio, TV and we online sports pundits sometimes tend to criticise the players without knowing the background to the players and the context in which they are performing and the challenges.
Not enough time is dedicated by the local press to Tanzanian sports performance – the majority of coverage is around the English Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and Ligue 1 in France. When you watch all sports TV Online the studio guests are either Simba spokesmen (msemaji wa Simba) or Yanga spokesmen (Msemaji wa Yanga). They could invite more key sports policymakers to talk about long term sports development for example and vary sports coverage on these programmes.
The Ministry of Sports and the Sports Council of Tanzania and the Sports Association should work together to improve awareness-raising, participation, training and creation of tournaments and affiliation of international sports bodies. Tanzania sportsmen and women need to be supported by the country including the media, and investment made in sports development in the country to support increased performance.