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We won, but whither our game, would it get us anywhere?

FOR the first time, Tanzania soccer fans agreed on one thing and that’s, much as they eliminated Burundi on Sunday in the second leg of the preliminary Fifa World Cup qualifier through spot kicks, but their counterparts were more organized, played as a team and were far better than Taifa Stars.

That is not all. Tanzania soccer fans agreed that Burundi’s success as a team is a result of that country taking soccer academy more seriously than Tanzania; and it is just a matter of time before Tanzania is reduced to a scenario which would be worse than the head of a madman.

In my two last columns over Tanzania, Burundi matches, I had warned Taifa Stars that their Burundian counterparts were more organized, played more as a team and were actually better than them because all the players were a product of soccer academy.

I further explained that Burundi had qualified for the Afcon soccer tournament as a debutant just like Madagascar because they had taken soccer academy more seriously as we continued to toy around with the idea over our heads as if putting it into action would have led to the outbreak of ebola in the country!

But after the match in which re-cycled, evergreen Juma Kaseja emerged a hero, through his valiant displays between the posts, we were finally told by the Burundians themselves that their team was not only a product of soccer academy, but had put into place a soccer academy programme that was second to none in the continent.

That programme had included, among other things, a short and long term training programme of coaches that had to date yielded over 20 coaches who were not only fluent in the game but also academically. What this means is that Burundian coaches can now train all over the East African region.

Through soccer coaching, Burundi has provided its youth with jobs which would in the end help in producing soccer stars most of whom would end up in Europe where they would earn money for taking their tiny nation further, socially and economically.

We can now understand why we have a number of Burundian coaches in our premier league. They have come here to put their new knowledge in the game through practice because most of our players, if not all, know nothing about basic football much as they may be more talented, individually, than their Burundian counterparts.

But training our young men and women in soccer and other sports coaching in readiness for getting into soccer academy programme is something I have written in my sports columns for over three years now!

Had we had soccer leaders who read, not only soccer columns, but anything for that matter, we would have long been at par with Burundi, especially in the production of soccer coaches because it only takes two years to get the best soccer coaching diploma in Cologne, the Federal Republic of Germany.

Indeed, you cannot launch soccer academies in a country without being in possession of well, trained soccer coaches who are specially trained to handle children from the age of ten.

The Burundian chief coach told whoever had cared to listen to him that his players had been together since they represented their country in the U-17 and have gone on to represent their country in the U-20 before they were all promoted to the senior national soccer team.

Much as we are not fully in the soccer academy thing, but we have our own U-17 which did well regionally, losing only to Uganda, but we have abandoned it and that is how good we are when it comes to matters that relate to soccer development and growth.

Ask Tanzania Football Federation officials the whereabouts of the U-17 which represented this country in the African Youth Championship which was not only hosted by Tanzania barely a few months ago, but was also officially opened by our own Prime Minister. But they wouldn’t be in a position to tell you the whereabouts of that team.

And that is the kind of soccer leadership that Tanzanians expect to get them a team that would competitively compete with the best in the continent. I don’t think we are serious.

Yes, we were lucky, we went through on Sunday. We will now get into what is called group stages of the tournament where our boys would be involved in a round-robin–soccer tournament which involves playing home and away.

But the million dollar question is, are our boys have the ability to go past the group stages? Our government has always supported our team, but we have always let it down, not once, but all the time.

Yet what we had asked the TFF to do was not financing soccer academy, far from it, but simply making mandatory for all premier league clubs to have young boys in their respective teams who could be taught basic soccer.

If you looked at the way our players played on Sunday, you would note that they are not trained in basic soccer.

That is why they were always together and whenever the ball landed anywhere on the pitch, a Burundian player was there, but not a Tanzanian player.

Tanzanian players were always missing in the action because they even don’t know what to do when they don’t have the ball.

But how can they know how to position themselves when they don’t have the ball when they lack basic soccer? We have a long way to go.

But next time those who matter are required to cast their votes to elect their new, soccer bosses, they need to use their votes more intelligently.

YESTERDAY the embassy of the People’ s Republic ...

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Author: ATTILIO TAGALILE

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