MID this week, the Council for East and Central African Football Associations (CECAFA), Secretary General, Nicholaus Musonye, dominated East African television channels as he was announcing, among others, the resumption of the regional soccer tournament after a two year absence.
Musonye literally struggled as he explained where the regional soccer organization was when it failed to organize the prime soccer tournament in the region. He struggled because he knew that the more they delayed to organize the tournament the more they became irrelevant in the region.
One of the main problems with CECAFA members has been their failure to work as a team in hosting the regional soccer tournament. Initially, CECAFA had four members, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar.
The CECAFA membership later grew to six when Burundi and Rwanda joined the organization after becoming part of the East African Community. At present CECAFA has seven members after South Sudan became temporary member of the East African Community.
For the CECAFA soccer tournament to be held, the seven soccer federations in the region need to look for funds for the tournament. That the seven soccer federations have failed, for two years in a row, to organize the tournament just goes to show how disorganized the seven are.
For soccer fans in the region, the failure of the seven should serve as a pointer to them to why the seven, with the exception of Uganda, have failed to do well in continental club and national soccer tournaments.
Indeed, how can they do well in such tournaments when they are incapable of organizing regional national soccer tournaments? While a few members in west, north and central Africa have been able to qualify for the Fifa World Cup, not a single team from CECAFA region has been able to qualify in the finals of the global soccer tournament.
They have failed to qualify for the Fifa World Cup finals for the simple reason that they are disorganized, period. Here we talking about countries which have, for years, been reluctant to establish and run soccer academies, institutions crucial for developing, scientifically, soccer players from their tender age.
The absence of scientifically organized and run soccer academies in the CECAFA region gives rise to the absence soccer players who are well armed with basic soccer skills.
And the foregoing scenario translates to the presence, in the CECAFA region, of soccer players who are incapable of taking on the best in the world. Therefore when national soccer teams from CECAFA region fail to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and Fifa World Cup finals, soccer fans from the region should not be surprised.
In the same vein, fans from the CECAFA region should not be surprised when their so called clubs fail to do well in continental clubs championships for reasons for such failures are as clear as day and night.
That their (soccer fans) respective teams cannot do well because they have not been investing in the game. CECAFA members’ failure to invest in the game starts with the region’s soccer federations which have long created a regional fund for funding CECAFA soccer tournaments.
For instance, each CECAFA member should have been contributing not less than, say, ten million a month to the CECAFA FUND. The implication of the foregoing is that by the end of the year, each CECAFA member would have contributed 120m/- the total regional fund per annum would amount to 840m/- enough to host the regional soccer tournament.
It is a crying shame for CECAFA members to fail to collect 840m/- when Tanzania soccer fans are aware of the fact that the Simba, Young Africans derby at the National Stadium collect more than half of the above amount in one game.
And if you consider the fact that there are not less than two derbies involving the two Dar es Salaam clubs, it is time something was done about this problem. One wonders what would have happened had President Paul Kagame not assisted in the financing of the cash prize for the regional soccer tournament which is named after him.
Every year, Rwanda through President Kagame coughs about 100,000 US dollars in cash prizes for Kagame Cup winners. It is time each and every member in the CECAFA asked themselves hard questions which include the funding of their own regional soccer tournaments.
One thing CECAFA members need to realize is that failing to organize and run regional soccer tournaments usually mark the start of failure to organize internal soccer tournaments.
Personally, I don’t know the state of internal soccer tournaments in the six other CECAFA members. But I’m fully aware of what has been going on in Tanzania which has failed to organize even regional soccer tournament.
Indeed, when was the last Taifa Cup tournament organized in Tanzania? Now your guess is as good as mine. Whoever coined the saying, CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME, knew why he said what he said. The ball is in the TFF’s court.