Tanzania says in all its leaders’ speeches that it wants sports glory. What does Tanzania do towards attaining this oft-made statement? Does Tanzania want to play its part in sports development?
This is the question that Tanzania Sports must ask following the forfeiture of a match by Tanzania that was awarded to Kenya after Tanzania failed to show up in Kigali in a CAVB Men’s Africa Volleyball Championship 2021.
Those of you who are younger may have no knowledge of these gentlemen-John Zambetakis, Patrick Sombe, Severin Mrema and Muharame Mchume, Mkalambati, Adam Gwao.
Those of us who are older however not only know them but remember with nostalgia, how under these gentlemen, volleyball was one of the sports in which Tanzania, was regularly known on both a regional and continental stage.
The question is what happened?
It cannot be possible that in 2021 as a country, all 59m of us, that we are unable to deliver a team to next door Kigali for a CAVB Men’s volleyball championships tournament that our neighbours Kenya, Rwanda, Morocco, Egypt and Nigeria among others have regularly participated in.
A google search of Tanzania and sports will generate a report that the most popular sports in Tanzania are football/soccer and boxing. Indeed these two are popular sports but have we as a country take football popularity to the next level? Have we?
How about boxing? Are these not the very sports in which we are loud when we win matches and conveniently forget who where and when whenever we are at the end of a loss?
Tanzania Sports would like to remind you of the atmosphere at Moshi’s Hindu Mandal Sports grounds in the late 90s a feat which was repeated every year when East Africa’s volleyball fraternity met under the kind sponsorship of Bonite Bottlers and IPP Group Ltd whose Executive Chairman was billionaire Reginald Abraham Mengi. Dr Mengi who passed on two years ago pioneered private sponsorship of sports before anyone else had envisioned it.
The annual Bonite Volleyball Championship was a festival of sorts, a pilgrimage that not only brought together Tanzanian’s from all walks of life but brought together East Africans in a week-long festival that had Moshi Town bustling with pride as businessmen made hay.
The late DJ Boka, a DJ of no mean repute in the Kilimanjaro region and Tanzania, was always at hand to do not just the spinning of disks but also be the Master of Ceremonies as he used his gist of the gab to keep the hundreds of volleyballers and thousands of fans from far and wide entertained.
Talented volleyballers came from as far as the Central African Republic let alone the norm from GSU, KCB among others from Kenya, Nabisunsa Girls from Uganda and the integration of Army teams JKT both men and women from Tanzania, Tipper from Kigamboni.
The best spikers, boosters and blockers were on show and year in year out the best players were identified and rewarded with cash, tankards and certificates.
It is this Bonite tournament that produced the current Rwanda team national coach as well as his predecessor Paul Bitok from Kenya. Bonite gave them an opportunity to shine at a regional stage and before too long, with their own training and certification became household names. Bitok has just completed his task with the Kenya women’s team at the just concluded Tokyo Olympics.
Tanzania was there in that mix it had the players but today that fire has gone and died. We have all fallen into the hype that football teams Yanga and Simba have created. Simba calls itself a sports club but features no other sports.
It may be time to have all these popular football teams include other minor sports in their academies so that all our sports can grow in tandem.
It is shameful that our teams not only fail to participate that Tanzanian volleyball is on the threshold of death and the current Tanzania Volleyball Association do not seem worried about it spending their time hyping beach volleyball that is almost fun sports-like the so-called jogging.
For how long shall the sports Ministry continue to live a lie that all is well in Tanzanian sports simply because we yearly all troupe to Ben Mkapa stadium in Dar es Salaam for Simba and Yanga day celebrations where Diamond and Koffi Olomide are the key attraction rather than the sports agenda?