PRIME Minister Kassim Majaliwa has drummed support for the national youth team, Serengeti Boys, urging Tanzanians to rally behind the country’s youngsters ahead of the U-17 Africa Youth Championship (AYC) finals in Gabon.
Presenting his budget estimates for the 2017/18 financial year, Majaliwa noted that Serengeti Boys’ qualification to the first ever continental youth finals, were among notable success the country attained in sports recently.
The PM said there were good signs on the improvement of the sports sector in the country, following good performance by Tanzanian teams and athletes at the international arena. “For instance, in May, 2017, the (national youth) football team Serengeti Boys, has qualified to compete in the Under-17 African Cup of Nations finals in Gabon.
In Athletics, our fellow Tanzanian, Alphonce Simbu won Mumbai Marathon in India. “Also in September last year, the national women’s soccer team (Kilimanjaro Queens) made a history by becoming the first ever team to win the CECAFA tournament.
I congratulate those who won the nation honours via sports,” Majaliwa told the National Assembly. He said sports was a key sector in increasing employment, improving health, propelling economy, building national unity as well as promoting the country at the international stage. The PM underscored the importance of investing on youth, recalling that most successful nations in sports invested on nurturing youth talents.
“Now it is important that TFF (Tanzania Football Federation) ensured there is a proper player development plan for Serengeti Boys youngsters in order to protect and nurture their talent, so that they can represent the nation in other international competitions,” Majaliwa made the call.
The Prime Minister, a qualified football coach, called on other sports associations to put more efforts on youth sports, by investing in young athletes in primary and secondary schools, as they are the future of the country’s sports.
He urged organisers of interschool games, UMITASHUMTA and UMISETA, which he confirmed that will be staged in Mwanza region following the postponement of last year’s edition, to stage early preparations and make the tournaments the best platform for tapping gifted young players.
The eyes of Tanzanians will be in Gabon when the Boys mark the country’s first ever appearance in the youth finals next month. Serengeti Boys won their ticket to the AYC finals, following their successful appeal in October, last year, against Congo Brazzaville, who fielded Langa Lesse Bercy, who was later proved to be aged above 17 years.
Serengeti Boys will pitch a month-long camp in Rabat, where they will play at least two friendly matches against hosts Morocco and either Tunisia or Egypt.
The team will then head to Cameroon on May 1, where they will also play two games on May 3 and 6 against Cameroon, before travelling to Gabon on May 7 ready for the AYC finals.
Serengeti Boys is pooled in group B alongside defending champions Mali, Niger and Angola. Serengeti Boys is targeting to win the championship as well as to book its ticket to the Youth World Cup finals scheduled for November in India.
Contributing to Prime Minister’s budget speech, lawmaker Sebastian Kapufi, (Mpanda Urban – CCM), said the country was still lagging behind in sports and largely due to ineffective short-term strategies and said it was high time the nation embarked on long term plans.
“The main problem is our short term programmes, most often we’re embarking on fireextinguisher preparations, we need to embark on sustainable approach, let’s invest in this area, where are the Bayis of the old glory days, we need to create new Bayis in athletics, football and other sports,” he said, referring to legendary middle distance runner Filbert Bayi.