We have all witnessed the kind of soccer our teams, Kilimanjaro Stars and Zanzibar heroes, played during the Cecafa Challenge Cup championship that winds up at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam today.
To be honest, we have quite a long distance to go before we can dream of attaining the levels some of the other East and central African teams have reached.
We have been beaten in terms of standards by Uganda, Rwanda and even Burundi. Our teams’ dismal performance in the regional championship reflects our poor rankings.
Unfortunately, soccer has massive numbers of followers in the country and the level of fanaticism has little to compare with what is actually delivered.
Fans and the rest of stakeholders are dying for success, but the teams are just not up to speed!
Basing on this fact, the outcome is frustration and disappointment as exhibited by fans at the stands whenever our teams played.
But the poor standard we are being treated to calls for a cautious approach, and we should not expect earth-shaking success overnight.
When we shall finally make a breakthrough depends on various factors, including expertise and infrastructure development.
While we have a number of corporate sponsors willing to help bail out our soccer, we also need grassroots support involving all stakeholders.
This is a challenge not only to the Tanzania Football Federation but also to the relevant ministry; they must join hands in finding the elusive “magic wand”.
The most conspicuous drawback is still lies relates to shortage of quality playgrounds for our kids to engage in sporting activities, including soccer.
Estate development has become so massive and swift that local government authorities have overlooked the need to reserve open spaces for our children to engage in sports.
However, TFF also needs to know how best to train coaches who will in turn groom our future sports stars.
Lack of seriousness and the need to stick to professional norms will always impede efforts to promote sports.
Some evidence: during the build-up towards the Cecafa Challenge Cup, our soccer federation named home-based coaches partly in response to fans. It thus sidelined the national (Taifa Stars) coach, who trained the team that lifted the Challenge Cup last year.
In saying this, we are not out to downplay the ability of Tanzanian coaches, far from it. But they have their own weaknesses, particularly when it comes to selection of players to feature in matches.
Yes, players should be selected on merit, basing on their ability to perform. But discipline must count.
As happened, some of the players selected for Kilimanjaro Stars never really deserved the privilege. Indeed, it was shocking seeing some of them joining the team while they have been previously ruled out on account of indiscipline.
We need to work harder and more professionally and patriotically in promoting our soccer. Thus far, few of us are serious enough.
It’s our hope and player that TFF will move faster and more responsibly to ensure that Tanzania no longer stands as an underdog in the world of soccer – at any level. After all, that’s the only reason we have it in place.