TANZANIA finished the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games medalless, but the country was just four places from a medal table as Alphonce Simba finished 7th in the 42km Marathon won by a Kenyan star, Eliud Kipchoge.
From what Simbu achieved, Tanzania could have achieved something if the country envoy could go the extra mile.
We are not supposed to be that poor in athletics as running is a natural sport for the majority of the Tanzanian youth. Where do we fail while our neighbours Kenya and Uganda achieve? Most of us have witnessed children running along with speeding cars on roads, trying to run faster ahead, a feat never achieved but nonetheless tried and repeated.
This tells us that running is a natural phenomenon and our physical engineering as humans supports us to use our legs to reduce or create distance between ourselves and other physical objects including our adversaries and sometimes non-physical objects such as sounds and smells.
Running is an opportunity – an opportunity to make your body fit, to earn fame; to earn income and to be wealthy; to travel from one place to another, locally and internationally! It can be wished that we had many ‘motivational speakers’ amidst the teachers and us parents: someone to tell you that you are good at running and to keep on it.
Serena and Venus Williams, the icons in international tennis, and Beyoncé, a popular singer and performer, have stories about their lives, putting at center stage the roles of parents in their early efforts and successes.
They got the support of parents to develop their God-given talents. Someone once overheard saying that in tough moments during higher education studies abroad, sought the inspiration to work against all odds and tirelessly to achieve life goals by watching the life histories of the two sisters and the singer Beyoncé; and it worked! Parents and teachers have roles to identify or to help children identify talents and to nurture them.
The best schools in the developed world consider sports as very important and attract athletic youths to join the schools; even college and universities compete to attract those talented kids.
What this means is that institutions within countries create the supporting environment and encouragement for talents to be identified and developed.
One would want to know whether institutions in our country could become a more holistic approach to put sports at center stage. Basically, our institutions have to use the principles of management to promote sports. Modern institutions have to plan, organize, coordinate, evaluate as well as budget to be effective.
These are some fundamental characteristics that define our modern-day institutions. Management is an important course in our higher education institutions, particularly in Mzumbe University and management knowledge and experiences are useful to how we run our institutions in the country.
How much do athletics and sports generally feature in the planning, evaluating and budgeting processes in the management of our institutions? Is what is happening acceptable? Is it giving desired results? How many of our universities wish to promote their institutions through sports? Do they give particular preferences to athletic talent? Even a country can be considered an institution by itself and we can ask the same questions.
But a country, its subsets as a system, and an open system as such, are its institutions. These institutions have to use the management principles to promote sports.
The location in which a piece of a valuable gem is found we seek there more of the gem and eventually we build a gold, or a diamond or a tanzanite mine. Let us revisit the locations where our distinguished athletes come from: Suleiman Nyambui – Ukerewe Island, Filbert Bayi - Karatu, Alphonce Simbu - Singida; Failuna Abdi Matanga– Kondoa. We can invest time and resources in these and other similar areas and mine winners in international races.
At the district level and regional level we have government representations. These are mandated institutions and people responsible for all that is important to the country including sports. What if the country is divided into talent zones and these areas become athletics zones? We staff these areas with sports lovers, and have them plan for identifying athletic talent, organize, coordinate, evaluate and budget for talent development.
We are sure to see some significant differences in the near future. Watching the Olympics in Tokyo 2020 that ended a fortnight ago was very interesting; even the words from commentators were inspiring! Many important words and phrases were used in anything that is competitive such as business and human endeavors that create wealth.
This tells us athletics is important like any valuable thing in society. These words include: courage, preparations, skills, experience, endurance, risk, tough, battle, dominant, smash, break, record, win, lose, countdown, over, victory, would and could happen, sporting immortality etc.
There are other words and phrases that are interesting like sensational, celebration, magic, champion, excited, breathtaking, enjoying, glittering, relaxed, rising, occasion, brilliant, outshine, better, massive, men and women in history, appear, any one, un fancied, personal best, Illustrious list, hope and inspiration, to believe, chance, good, quest, iconic, incredible and double delight. It was also captivating to see the names of some African athletes who won medals are similar to our local names; for example, Mboma from Namibia won Silver in 200 meters race.
Those with similar origins and economic backgrounds of animal grazing from the East Africa geographical region won medals for their own countries and some as emigrants for the USA, Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands. In football, we have our local business people competing to be part of the broth.
The same can also be said about boxing! The two sports endeavors seem to have a brighter future in the country and the youths are inspired. Sports tourism can also be invested in a manner that a sports center of international quality is built in one of the highland areas of the country through public or private investment attracted to the country.
• Dr Faisal Issa is a Senior Lecturer in Public Management at Mzumbe University, Dar es Salaam Campus College