It may come a s a surprise that in the best 7 sports stadia around the world, purely football stadi do not even feature.
Do not be shocked that Nou Camp nor Wembley are on this list. However the recent botched planned visit to Tanzania by Birmingham City on the off season brough to the light one fact that in the new national Stadium, Tanzania has gotten itself a jewel in the crown that needs serious maintenance to keep it us to world standards.
The stadium opened in 2009 to much fanfare is a 60,000 seater that former President Benjamin William Mkapa says was his lasting tribute to the soccer loving nation .
In comparison , what is the status of the National Stadium in comparison to the others in the East African States? One common thread is that East Africa’s top 3 stadia have all benefitted from the growing link of China in the region.
Uganda’s Nelson Mandela stadium in Nambole and Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani in Nairobi Kenya are the two other stadia. It is therefore not surprising that the general architectural structure and outlook is fairly similar between the three stadia.
However, former President Benjamin Mkapa, during a recent function where he was given a lifetime recognition award by Tanzania Sports Writers Association (TASWA) for initiating the founding of the national stadium, told his audience that his only prayer was that the stadium would be kept in good order.
The nature of the national stadium calls for serious rethink from it’s managers who are the ministry of sports . The stadium has seats for all but it must be remembered that in the short period of it’s existence, it has had to be refurbished due to vandalism. The visiting staff members of English club Birmingham F.C. , gave a verdict of the National Stadium as one of the best in the World.
Every time Yanga plays Simba, the over enthusiastic fans peel off a few seats in their overzealous cheering and that in itself leaves the stadium looking dreary. Trouble is the Ministry of Sports does not have enough stewards to man the stadium, neither do they have technogy to monitor and take responsibility over culprits.
Questions are already being asked about the workmanship put in all these Chinese made stadia. Have they been up to scratch technically?
Obviously the standards of some of the best stadia in the world i.e. Nou Cmap for Barcelona F.C or Aztec Stadium in Brazil are governed by 5 key principle factors.
No 1 is the question of security. A stadium must be such that access to and from the stadium is not restricted so that in the event of God forbid a disaster happens ambulance and fire and rescue services must be able to reach the stadium and get out. On this score with the traffic jams of Dar es Salaam, the nation al stadium fails the test.
Second on unrestricted access ways , acces gates plus well set seats. The stadium is well set and has enough of these however the trouble is the maintance level is not up to scratch.
Restroom facilities are fairly well set out however the level of cleanliness in them leaves a lot to be desired. Once again this is due to both poor usage habits and the lack of back up maintainace to keep the standards high.
On the matter of Changing rooms and gym facilities, the national stadium can hold it’s own to the best of facilities anywhere in the world. The Electronic broadcast and pubic address sytems is prone to breakdown and therefore requires regular maintance.
In essence, former President Mkapa’s wish for the national stadium was real. As a national treasure, we need to ensure that we provide enough funding for the Ministry to enable it maintain the stadium to required standards.
Similar to what Kenya has done, it may be prudent to form a statutory body or go into public private partnership that will operate the national stadium. This will ensure that the facility dioes not end up run down due to lack of maintance while it continues to bring in huge sums of money when in use.
Stadia like the Emirates Stadium or Stamford Bridge are a touristic attraction on their own and the national stadium would attract money with tourists both local and international paying a fee to tour it. The stadium needs to be kept at a level where it shall not fall to disuse and end up requiring huge sums of money for refurbishment.
On the other hand, we the users need to give Dar es Salaam National Stadium like the jewel that it is by avoiding damaging any parts and sections of the stadium knowing how expensive these are to maintain.
It is only when the public is made aware of the need to preserve this beautiful piece of architecture and the public/private partnership takes ownership of the stadium that we shall have taken a huge step towards ensuring sustainability of a grand national stadium for today and posterity.