THE corona virus somewhat semi-lockdown in Tanzania has brought, in its wake, a lot of problems which have affected almost all facets of life, including, of course, those that involve sports.
One of the areas the deadly disease has touched is in the Mainland Premier League, and in particular, clubs which heavily depend on the services of foreign, African players. Such clubs mostly involve Simba, Young Africans; and to some extent, Azam FC.
Most of the foreign players from the three clubs are presently back in their respective home countries where the situation, in terms of this present pandemic, is more or less than what is going on in Bongoland.
The tragedy, if one may describe that as such, is that when it comes to working out individual’s training programmes for the team, it’s very difficult to deal with players who are out of the country much as some may talk of the presence, these days, of the digital world.
And being out of the country constitutes the first problem. But the second problem is likely to emerge when the disease has finally been conquered.
Premier league clubs which are heavily built around local players are very much likely to have a headstart in the league even if the TFF decides to provide a three week preparation period before the re-start of the premier league.
To understand this, consider the following. Even if the deadly virus has been conquered, foreign players would still be subjected to the two week isolation before they join their collegues in their respective clubs. The point is, all may be well in Tanzania or in the entire East African region, but not where the players may be coming from.
This means foreign players would only have one week (out of the three week grace period) of training with their colleagues in their respective clubs. And that is where the headstart for clubs which are heavily built around local players come in.
Even if clubs with only local players had not trained together because of the semi-lockdown, the three week grace period would suffice for them. Why? Local players are not in any way affected by the two week isolation period as they have all the time lived in their own country.
Now these are some of the things our clubs, and in particular, those considered to be somewhat well off, need to start thinking critically. In fact, this explains why top flight premier league clubs in Europe and elsewhere did not allow their players to return back to their respective homes.
They wanted the players to remain in Europe so that they can manage their respective individual training programmes from their respective homes. When you consider the pros and cons of the problems I have touched on, nothing beats the idea of building our clubs around soccer academies.
And this is because only by practicing the latter, would our clubs reduce their heavy dependency on foreign players most of whom are not very much different from our own local players. Indeed, our clubs need to be selling our players to foreign clubs in other African countries and beyond and not to be buying these third rate players whose performance is not different from our own local players.
And this brings me to what an official from the Iringa based premier league club, Lipuli said on Thursday night during the ITV news bulletin. Said the official; “unlike other top flight clubs in the league who have legions of foreign players and most of whom are back in their respective countries, all our players are at home.”
As I have already noted above, players being at home means it is easier for their respective clubs to handle them when it comes to working out individual training programmes in readiness for the league once corona virus is conquered.
For premier league clubs which heavily depend on local players, they fits, to the letter, with the saying which goes; ‘A bird in hand is better than two in the forest.’ It is not easy to get a bird in the forest much as they are very many out there.
Getting a bird in the foreign would involve a lot of things, hence the need to protect a bird you already have. And this is exactly what top flight premier league clubs in Tanzania find themselves in. Yes, they have, comparatively, got good foreign players. But most of such players, if not all, are presently not in Tanzania.
They back in their respective homes. This is certainly a problem clubs affected would have to deal with if they really want to develop and get to a level where they can take on the best in the world.
If you think you have the ability to buy and maintain foreign players, then you should also have the ability to keep them in your own country until the end of the corona virus in the say way that top flight European soccer clubs have done. There are no two ways about it!
• Attilio Tagalile is a journalist/ author and media consultant based in Dar es Salaam and can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org