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Using trained Gymnasts to entertain politicians won’t win Tanzania Olympic Glory

The United Republic of Tanzania’s participation at the Olympics is once again in question following the revelation that the nation of nearly 60 million people is being represented at the global event by 3 sportsmen only. 

Sports enthusiast and Contractor Eng. Sylvanus Kamugisha, posted juxtaposed two photos one of the Japanese carrying a Tanzanian flag and the other of the Kenyan delegation, photos which spoke of the stark contrast with the Japanese carrying the flag for Tanzanian whose delegation we understand had not arrived in Tokyo during the opening day of the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The million-dollar question still remains as to why for 41 years after Filbert Bayi and Suleiman Nyambui Mugaya no Tanzanian has brought home an Olympic medal let alone gold.  What ails our sports performance for a country that boast a population of over a 59million people?

Asked this question, Tanzania Basket Ball Federation President Phares Magesa says and I quote, “we need to invest in infrastructure and plan better. In terms of the basketball game, Mr Magesa says we need to export more young players to the more developed basketballing nations in Europe and America’s. This would enable them to play more competitive basketball at college levels. He adds that we also need to invest more money through government and other corporate sponsors to support our local clubs.”

The response by TBF President brings to question exactly what ails Tanzania’s participation in international sporting jamborees including the Olympics, World Championships, All Africa Games and Club Championships in different sports genres.

Back in the day, Tanzania used to produce well-drilled boxers besides world-beating athletes like the aforementioned Bayi and Nyambui. It is easy simplistic to blame our lack of global sporting icons on any one specific cause given they are many.

Tanzania Sports

First, Tanzania, contrary to her desire to have world-beaters on the global sports forum rostrums has annually failed to invest in sports. Blessed with the expansive land network, we have barely used the land to benefit the needs of sporting activities and this is the lack of infrastructure that Mr Magesa speaks of.

Where we have land and sorts stadia, they are threadbare of any facilities and thus end up better serving as livestock feeding areas not sporting theatres. Rwanda probably has one of the best of this in the region and this can be seen in the latest basketball league series involving 20 African countries they have recently hosted, where for whatever reason Tanzania was absent.

Secondly, Tanzania has not taken sports seriously as the feeder system through schools and colleges have remained unstructured and barely used to recruit and nurture talent. Not long ago during an East Africa secondary schools sports bonanza held in Arusha, Tanzania, the hosts, were represented by 650 sportsmen in Athletics, Football and Netball. Kenya for its part brought 1200 sportsmen who competed in those three disciplines plus others including Swimming, Hockey, Tennis, Handball, rugby and golf. 

Obviously, sports is a lifetime activity, not a one-time event.

Third, as a country, Tanzania needs to stop hallucinating that we can talk ourselves to success because no amount of hyping up Simba and or Yanga will make us win a continental diadem both as a club or as a national team, Taifa Stars. These two clubs have done the nation proud but without doubt, the hysteria about them and football has resulted in the hypnosis of sorts over sports.

It is time to put our money where our mouth is. The “sisi ni matajiri” mantra that President John Pombe Magufuli used to preach has not reached the sports circles yet and where it has, it seems to be sinking in a bottomless pit with little if any results to show for it.

We must stop the temptation to celebrate the few unknowns who somehow become stars overnight without any investment. We must avoid the big talk on local media that makes young Tanzanians think we long concurred the world with our ability.

The ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi cannot escape the blame. It owns the policy which governs the country and it feels nothing that sports in Tanzania is as good as dead. Nyambui once said our politics is what kills our sports.

Tanzania, wake up talent alone is not enough. We must identify and nature talent. We must sweat tears and blood to become the champions that we potentially are granted massive talent we have.

You can’t help but agree with Nyambui considering that our well trained gymnasts-trained in China end up providing entrainment to politicians during national days. The shame of it all.


Written by Israel Saria

For the last 20 years I have been working as a football pundit. This experience has provided me with a very useful insight into football and the opportunity to carry out extensive research into the game including its players, the stadiums, the rules and tactics and I have also been grateful to meet a wide range of people connected to football in the UK, Tanzania, Germany .....

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