London 2012 is finally around the corner. The Africa Cup of Nations started on Saturday 21st Jan 2012. This is a year of sport for sports enthusiasts. Except Tanzanian sports lovers are regretting the fact that they are missing at the Africa Cup of Nations and their participation in the Olympics is minimal.
The Olympics are held once every 4 years and are the pinnacle of sports events. The amount of TV coverage and media focus on athletes is massive even by global standards. It is a win at the Olympics that makes a sportsman a true icon of the sport and shows that the individual, or the team for the matter, has become a global champion of the World. This has happened to the US Swimming team while the US Basketball team was seen to have failed for having missed the crown.
Tanzania on the other hand is still waiting to take home a crown. This only happened at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow when Filbert Bayi won a silver medal in the 3000m steeplechase and Suleiman Nyambui won the 5000m.
FAILING TO PLAN IS PLANNING TO FAIL
The question then is what ails Tanzania in terms of sports? It is a question whose answer readily comes to mind if you consider the old but true saying that if one fails to plan, one is actually planning to fail.
The Olympics games are the World’s stage for excellence in performance. Olympic athletes are tried and tested endurance performers. So how is it that Tanzania has generally prepared for failure by failing to plan?
PLAN: The best way to achieve set goals is to have a set goal. It looks more certain than ever that the Tanzania Olympic Committee (TOC) has no set targets to which they are working. At TOC it is business as usual. The public is not even aware of what their target is. In contrast, Kenya who have several times been winners of 5- 8 Gold medals at previous Olympics announce every Olympic year what their target is.
RESOURCES: It is also clear that Government investment into sporting resources is far from satisfactory. The very idea of stopping sports from being in the curriculum in schools has contributed negatively in the quest to develop sports. Simply sporting talent is seen, identified from age seven to 13. Anyone starting sports at 23 is already too late in many sporting disciplines.
TRAINING: We are not developing and using many sports trainers from within a local pool of talent. The result is that we are short of coaches and sports talent spotters. We have too many arm chair strategists in Tanzanian sports.
MANAGEMENT: Management is probably the worst of Tanzania”s problems. Even with the former Tanzania Golf Union Chairman, Dinoz Malinzi, as Chaiman of the National Sports Council, it seems that Tanzania is still going to go against the average of 1 manager for every 15 athletes as the Olympic Charter proposes. This simply means for every 15 athletes, a team should have on average 2 officials. However it has become traditional for Tanzania to have a representation of 7 athletes and 15 officials.
The question then is what would these 15 officials be doing managing 7 athletes across 2 or so disciplines? If resources are the problem why can’t these 7 athletes be handled by 1 official and supported by the High Commission officials? The Tanzania High Commission in London is one of the biggest worldwide. They have a cultural attache who could coordinate and assist the sports delegates and Tanzanians in London could also provide assistance. This would save the Government money.
Is it fair to use these games as the opportunity to fly girl friends to capitals of the World at Tax Payers cost?
What is the Ministry in charge of Youth and Sport doing to curb this reckless and wanton squandering of public coffers by our managers of sports. Plenty it seems need to be done to bring a sense of order into sports management if we are to create jobs ad opportunities for young Tanzanians with talent.
In todays world sports is business. We are still managing it as child’s play. To our own detriment. When shall we wake up and realise?