GONE are the days when TX Chaka, parading himself as a wrestling champion.
Vitus Mbalale, his rivals Sunvincent Sangandele and Power Benardo Tai Kichaa could be like The Undertaker or John Cena, the most popular figures in today’s wrestling craze (WWE).
Wrestling are among the sports that hit the headlines during the Ujamaa era and now clinically dead. Wrestling during its heydays was one of the only sports whose audience could pay a gate fee. Only football has remained as sport that charges an entrance fee whereas the third one; Boxing, has almost faded from the limelight.
Tanzania, as a country that competes in the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games and the African Championships, has rarely won a medal or any international honour in for about a decade and as the time goes on many sports that were popular prior to the economic reforms in the 1990s have disappeared completely.
As of today, there is considerable interest amongst Tanzanians in sports, with the country’s football, boxing and basketball teams all widely celebrated and keenly followed. Football predictably tops the most popular sports in Tanzania for both young and old.
It is an accessible game, cheap to play, and an integral part of every childhood. Football clubs have been around since the 1920s, and although the sport has not yet scaled up to international levels, it may not be long before there is a multimillion dollar transfer from Simba or Young Africans.
Boxing is losing popularity in Tanzania after steadily rise about forty years ago. From late 1960s to late 1980 Tanzania was popular globally as the country that produced the most stylish boxers with big names like Lucas Msomba, Aloys Nuti, Neva Mkadala, Gerald Michael, Emanuel Mlundwa, Ahmed Tesha and Nassor Michael parading that kind of stylish boxing.
Titus Simba, who won a silver medal in the Commonwealth Games of Edinburg Scotland Habib Kinyogoli, who also won a silver in All Africa Games of 1973 seemed to have opened the way to other medalists such as Willy Isangura, Haji Ally, Michael Yombayomba and the entire Matumla dynasty.
Lack of planning, promotion and commitment bought boxing to stagnancy at both amateur and professional levels.Recently, only Hassan Mwakinyo is the Tanzanian boxer who has found a niche in the international arena, Over the years, the country has been attempting to improve the quality of athletes across a wide variety of sports.
However, Tanzania suffers from a lack of structured training programmes, combined with a lack of organised financial support. Athletes are constantly struggling to gain worldwide recognition and also to encourage new blood to the sport.
Thankfully, there are now various organisations committed to overcoming these challenges and reaching the big leagues globally. Sports is becoming an important driver in the country and Tanzanians have also started to become professionals in newer international streams such as weightlifting, handball, and cricket.
Sports education has been made available in schools, colleges, and virtually every institution in the country. It seems that Tanzania is close to making the leap towards worldwide leagues through football as evidenced through the success of Mbwana Samatta and Simon Msuva.
Still more efforts and commitment are needed to bring football at the next level. Also declared dead are handball, badminton while netball, once the second to football is struggling to regain life at the deathbed.
Rugby, once very popular in the early 2000s has ceased to exist in terms of the national and regional level tournaments and nothing has been heard from its governing body for many years.
To revive all of them needs a serious campaign and promotion to revive dead or dying sports. With luck or miracles, hopefully all those sports might be resurrected let’s hope it come in 2020.