The tournament, which is organized by the Tanzania Darts Association (TADA), is also expected to attract players from the rest of the East African region in a bid to maintain a high level of competitiveness in the sport, apart from fostering better relations among the players in the region.
Domestic darts players, as it was the case previously, will join the fray full of optimism on successfully representing the country in the event by grabbing top honours. Much as the Tanzanian players will be keen on winning silverware though, plenty of questions on their ability to fulfill their dreams will definitely arise among the sport’s followers in the country.
Domestic darts players have generally had less impressive spell in the Tanzania International Darts Open Championship in recent years, although the tournament is held at their backyard. Their performance in the last year’s tournament, which was held in Arusha, remains the most relevant case in point in that players from the neighbouring Kenya scooped top honours in almost all events while domestic players were left to battle for the remaining positions.
Players from Arusha’s Empire Darts Club were so far the only ones that somewhat attempted to flex their muscles and impress in some of the events as their compatriots from other clubs disappointingly faltered at the hands of the visitors. This year’s Tanzania International Darts Open Championship is, again, bound to pose huge challenge to domestic players as far as winning top honours is concerned considering that they will be up against formidable opponents from Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
The fact that domestic players have not had as many opportunities as possible to participate in high profile competitions at the domestic level in the past few months means they will have to largely bank on individual talents to excel in the forthcoming event. The TADa Cup, played in Tanga early this year, remains the only major domestic event that Tanzanian players have had opportunity to take part in and thereby put their skills to test.
This means Tanzanian players are in a rather precarious position as far as winning silverware in the Mwanza tournament is concerned based on their lack of opportunities to compete in tournaments on regular basis. It is undeniable that competitions are the best opportunity for players to assess their strengths and weaknesses and, for that matter, fewer competitions amount to fewer opportunities to shape up for bigger events and the situation, ultimately, spells doom to the players.
That, though, has hardly killed the desire by domestic players to make an impact in Mwanza as they all hold a common belief that they still stand a chance to surprise their otherwise well drilled counterparts from Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. Dar es Salaam darts players, like their fellows from the rest of the country, have already exuded confidence in their ability to excel in the tournament but fulfilling their promise remains the most daunting task ahead of them.
Dar es Salaam players’ confidence derives from the fact that they have had chance to participate in the Dar es Salaam Darts Association (DADA) Cup, played at the Moshi Hotel, Manzese, last weekend. The tournament, which was sponsored by the Tanzania Breweries Limited (TBL), featured players from all three districts of Ilala, Kinondoni and Temeke, with players competing in singles, doubles and team events.
The event stands to have served as the players’ only meaningful final preparations for the Tanzania International Darts Open Championship, raising the prospects of seeing the players applying the tactics gained from the last weekend event in the Mwanza tournament. That, however, still casts doubt on the Dar es Salaam players’ ability to excel in Mwanza because the level of competition in the DADA Cup varies greatly with the one that is bound to be experienced in the Tanzania International Darts Open Championship, which is expected to be rather stiffer.
For the Ilala District darts skipper, Mohamed Samji ‘Jaluo’, whose two teams finished as runners up in the DADA Cup last weekend, impressive performance by the team’s players in the Dar es Salaam event was just a tip of what they are going to showcase in Mwanza. “Our participation in the DADA Cup is simply serving as preparations for the Tanzania International Darts Open Championship in Mwanza”, he said. “You have seen what we (Ilala players) have done…we are really in good shape and are definitely going to torment our opponents in Mwanza”, bragged Jaluo shortly after the DADA Cup’s presentation ceremony.
The fact that Dar es Salaam comprises talented players in the likes of Upanga Darts Club (UDC)’s Nanji Bhudia, Devendra Rajput ‘Deva’, Mehboob Khakoo, Sanjay Kara, Alikhan Wallani, Azim Haji Mohamed., Bhavesh Solanki and Jaluo, to name but a few, gives
the region an audacity to dream of holding its own against foreign opponents in the forthcoming event. Khakoo, in particular, looks to be eager to translate his success in the men’s singles event of the DADA Cup into a rather bigger achievement when he steps in front of the Monarch Hotel’s dartboards in Mwanza to battle for honours in the Tanzania International Darts Open Championship but he will need to be at his best throughout, should he dream of performing well there.
Khakoo was the finalist in the men’s singles event in the DADA Cup, in which he lost 4-2 to Kimanga Darts Club’s Edward Bachwa, an achievement that ascertained the former’s rather encouraging rise to prominence in club competitions. The same could be said of the UDC duo of Wallani and Solanki, whose stellar performance in the men’s doubles event in the DADA Cup propelled them to triumph and add honours to Ilala and UDC.
The two have lately managed to form a promising partnership in the doubles event in club competitions and a lot is expected from them, should they maintain their partnership in Mwanza. The UDC players, though, have to come to terms with the fact that talent would not solely help them prevail in the Mwanza tournament and, that again, leaves their chances to lay hands on silverware in serious doubt.
As domestic darts followers eagerly wait to see their heroes take on opponents from the rest of the East African region, the fans should remind themselves of the need to seriously lobby for reliable sponsorship, which could help TADA organize tournaments regularly and thereby improve domestic players’ performance. Domestic darts players’ regular participation in competitive action, either in or outside the country, stands above everything else as far as efforts to realize the players’ trek to success is concerned, thus, putting issue to practice remains the challenge to the sport’s stakeholders.
A generally less impressive campaign the players experienced in the East Africa Darts Challenge Trophy, held in Dar es Salaam in April, last year, serves as a grim reminder on the necessity for serious promotion of the sport in the country. There was indeed little that domestic players could do in the face of dominant displays from uncompromising Kenya and Uganda players in the tournament and it was hardly surprising to see the latter race to convincing wins.
Not even talented female domestic players, Fabiola Namajojo (Mzinga Club, Morogoro) and Hilda Mahiti (Magereza Club, Kilimanjaro), could stop Kenyan darts players from teaching their Tanzanian counterparts a darts lesson and aggressively marching to victory in games. All Fabiola and Hilda could manage was a berth in the quarterfinals of the women singles event prior to faltering at the hands of Kenya’s female darts greats, Judith Kagendo and Rosemary Wangui, who were the eventual champion and runner up respectively.
A request by TADA Chairman, Gesase Waigama, to domestic players to deploy all tricks at the latter’s disposal, so that they could ensure expensive prizes set aside for winners remain in the country, bounds to serve as a timely morale boost to the players.
Waigama believes better performance by domestic players and their eventual triumph will convince the tournament’s sponsor to continue supporting domestic darts, thus, it remains to be seen whether the players will diligently play their part in Mwanza.