It should be remembered that much of the nation’s football history - great moments and sad moments - are etched and framed in the former National Stadium in the city of Dar es Salaam. The National Stadium has now been renamed Uhuru Stadium. The venue is currently undergoing major renovation. Before this the stadium was in a pathetic situation.
A similar deplorable situation has caught up with the Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) stadia which used to be in excellent condition in yesteryears. Investigations show that reasons for this change have to do with bad weather condition in the country, especially draughts which do not allow grass to thrive.
This stark reality notwithstanding, it is still right to say that most stadia have been neglected. It is a shame that there seems to be a serious lack of maintenance of football pitches across the country. Rough soccer pitches can be dangerous to footballers. Playing soccer on a rugged or dusty pitch can pose a health risk to footballers.
Winning a game can be a huge challenge if that game is held on a rugged field. Players risk injuries when playing on irregular pitches that are uneven and full of potholes. In fact, in recent times, Tanzania’s performance in football, to say the least, has not been impressive. Many reasons have been put forward for this lacklustre performance but one of the major reasons could be lack of proper playing fields.
Coaches and players are complaining about the situation but it seems little if not limited efforts are being made to improve the condition of football pitches. Yanga coach Tom Saintfiet, from Belgium, described Sokoine Stadium in Mbeya as “ridiculously bad.” His concern was followed by another complaint from Dutchman Ernie Brandits, who was not happy with the condition of Kaitaba Stadium in Kagera.
Simba officials are also on the record for complaining about the bad state of Mkwakwani Stadium in Tanga. Arusha’s Sheikh Amri Abeid Kaluta, Dodoma’s and Morogoro’s Jamhuri are not in good state either. A similar situation afflicts CCM Kirumba Stadium in Mwanza and Amaan Stadium in Zanzibar. The once all-grass pitches have been replaced by sun scorched tufts of grass. If we want to develop football in the country we should start with revamping the dilapidated stadiums and football pitches. Players deserve to play on high quality surfaces which provide the best opportunity to perform well.