ABSENCE of Tanzanian athletes in the wealthy games around the globe is a clear indication that professionalism in the country is still at its infancy.
There are events like the Golden or Diamond Leagues whose winners are paid handsomely, most often, the package can soar over 50,000 US dollars (about 115m/-), yet no Tanzanian seems interested.
A simple example is Tanzanian marathoner Gabriel Geay, who Wikipedia revealed he has reaped a total of 33,000 US dollars in various races he competed prior to going for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Athletics has paid well Tanzanians who excelled in the global level events. Though there are no figures released, runners like Filbert Bayi, Juma Ikangaa, Simon Mrashani, John Yuda, must be consulted by young athletes who wish to know how the sport pays.
Athletics has lost its glitter and it is no longer a medal hope in big games such as Olympics, Club Games even the All Africa Games.
Even the just ended Tokyo 2020, didn’t draw interest from Tanzania as there were only two Tanzanians who managed to qualify; Failuna Abdi Matanga and Alphonce Simbu, both marathoners.
Sadly, nothing has been reported in other sports such as boxing, swimming and judo, which Tanzania previously paraded in the global level games.
Many sports are dead or are placed very close to the deathbed, it is over forty years now since Tanzania won its first Olympic medal in Moscow through Filbert Bayi and Suleiman Nyambui.
Among them is wrestling, which during its heydays was one of the only three sports whose audience could pay a gate fee.
Today it is football that charges entrance fee, whereas the third one, boxing, has made a strong comeback only at professional level.
The 40-year Olympic medal drought is likely to continue since the Tokyo 2020 campaign is not every Tanzanian affair, but rather a media initiative.
Olympic mania is no longer there and so is the professionalism that rewards well the winners.
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.
Lack of planning, promotion and commitment forced many sports to stagnancy at both amateur and professional levels.
In recent days, Tanzanian boxer, Hassan Mwakinyo is the Tanzanian boxer who has found a niche in international arena.
His contribution has been big as it motivated professional boxing and now we have highly adored boxing events going by the name Vitasa or Rumble in Dar.
Over the years, the country has attempted to improve the quality of athletes across a wide variety of sports, but the campaign has suffered from lack of structured training programmes, combined with lack of organised financial support.
Athletes are constantly struggling to gain worldwide recognition and also to encourage new blood to the sports. Thankfully, there are now various organisations committed to overcoming these challenges and reaching the big leagues globally.
Sports has become 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 has not gone very far at the global level as we have only Mbwana Samatta and Simon Msuva doing well globally.
Still more efforts and commitment are needed to take football to the next level.
Also declared dead are handball, and badminton, while netball, once only second to football, is struggling to regain life at the deathbed.
Rugby, once very popular in the early2000s, has ceased to exist in terms of 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 that must involve every Tanzanian.