TANZANIAN basketball fraternity have for years been missing a lucrative sponsorship in the running of domestic tournaments and participation in the international tournaments.
Basketball was one of the sporting events that enjoyed a massive sponsorship that led to the invitation of foreign players from Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda to play for moneyspinning local leagues in the country.
The production of among highly profiled local players in the likes of US-based Hasheem Thabeet and Abdallah Ramadhani, alias Dulla who went to Seychelles to play for Cobra was among key elements that basketball could be a second sport after football.
But the coming of CRDB Bank to sponsor the ongoing CRDB Taifa Cup tournament taking place here in Dodoma has been hailed by members of parliaments and other basketball lovers to take the sport back to its feet.
Speaking during the official opening of the 10-day tournament here at Chinangali complex, several Members of Parliament (MPs) have said that the bank’s sponsorship has come timely, but that should not be the end of the road. Honourable speaker Job Ndugai said that basketball is one of his favorites sporting events and enjoys a lot watching.
“I have been much impressed to see a big gathering of young male and female basketballers from different parts of the country,” said Ndugai.
“Sports unite people and can be a source of employment.” “And interestingly, we have plenty of role models in the sport’s sector, among others, Hasheem Thabeet who went to United States of America to play and study simply because of basketball,”
“What I most like about basketball is that it is all about speeding, foot and hand works of the players.”
“Another thing is that unlike football when you take a lot of time to score a goal that may even last in all 90 minutes, basketball records a big margin of points to fuel competitiveness.”
“A coach may recall his players outside of the pitch when he sees things are tough on his side while the match is on progress.”
“And a player can frequently go out to rest and return to the field as many times as coach wants, it is a more sociable sport indeed,” says Ndugai.
He says CRDB has done a recommendable job by bringing together over 900 basketballers and meet their accommodation and inside travel costs, apart from awarding cash prizes and setting aside 50 million for scholarships for the outstanding young players to undergo academic studies.
A member of parliament for Chalinze Constituency, honourable Ridhiwani Kikwete says that the hefty sponsorship set by the bank revives morale of basketball, calling for CRDB and other well-wishers to join forces and make sure that basketball is promoted to the international level.
“I have never ever witnessed a big gathering of basketball like this here in Dodoma, I remember last time was in Dar es Salaam about six years ago,” says Kikwete, who is an ardent basketball fan. He says that he was very much impressed to see a big number of young basketballers, whose skills are being exposed as they need to be promoted throughout their career.
Hamis Shaaban Taletale, alias Babu Tale who is a new member of parliament for Morogoro rural constituency says that basketball has a good connection to music the reason why it mostly influences young people to get engaged to it.
“I like seeing young people play together, basketball connects people,” says Babu Tale, who is one of the WCB’s Diamond Platnumz managers. He says that sports need investment, hailing CRDB and co- sponsors, Mayfair and Sanlam Insurance firms for showing up.
“Without sponsorship, these young people could not be here playing,” “Playing motivates their health and also create chances for employment,” he says.
Damas Ndumbaro, who is a member of parliament for Songea Urban constituency was among several other MP’s in attendance, watching his Bunge team playing against CRDB in one of the thrilling matches.
“I was basketball, volleyball and football player during my childhood and school life,”
“ And I currently play golf, I therefore know the importance of sports, not only for health, but as a source of employment,” says Ndumbaro, who is a former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
Ndumbaro says that sports have for years been a source of employment, calling for sports bodies in the country to create conducive environment and enable the young players to be promoted from their tender ages.
He says their sports career should go inline with development of their studies as it has been the case for most of colleges in overseas.
“We have our local people like Mbwana Samatta, Simon Msuva, Hasheem Thabeet and several others trading skills in abroad because of sports,” says Ndumbaro.
“ I therefore would like to see basketball and other sporting events progress further to create chances for employment of young people in the country,” he says.
“I believe that the sport sector will flourish further in the country because it is part of Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) policies as it always been insisted by President John Joseph Magufuli,” he says.
CRDB Executive director, Abdulmajid Mussa Nsekela says that his bank feels obliged to support sports and other community activities by giving back part of profit.
He also hails the Tanzania Basketball Federation (TBF), through its president Phares Magesa for their initiative to bring basketball to life.
“ We see more coming and will always be ready to support sports development.” He says that CRDB is a patriotic bank that is operated countrywide with 65 per cent of its staff being below 40 years, the reason why it also gives priority to the development of young people and other people of different groups of ages.
“When we were approached by TBF to support the tournament, we did not hesitate considering to the fact that its all about supporting young people’s sports career,” said the CRDB boss.
“We have been involved in supporting of different sporting events to promote their athletes’ career,” he says. He says that basketball is not only about sport, it is also about life, calling for the participants to have always a ‘saving habit’ with his bank for their future plans.
In his welcoming note to the Speaker honourable Ndugai, MP’s and other government officials, the CRDB top official said that his bank will always collaborate with the government for the prosperity of various sports and other social sectors in the country