Mzee Rukhsa leaves positive sport legacy

TANZANIA: TANZANIAN’S sporting ability reached new heights under the leadership of the late President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, affectionately known as Mzee Rukhsa, with icons like Filbert Bayi and Juma Ikangaa leading the charge.

As the nation mourns the loss of Mwinyi, Bayi and Ikangaa stand as a testament to the positive influence of his tenure, leaving an indelible mark on Tanzanian athletics.

Bayi’s reign from 1970 to 1983 and Ikangaa’s dominance from 1980 to 1995 epitomise the golden era of Tanzanian sports during Mwinyi’s presidency.

These sporting giants not only captured the imagination of the nation but also inspired a new generation of athletes, fostering a love for sports among Tanzanian youth.

Bayi’s record-breaking performances at the Commonwealth Games and the establishment of the Filbert Bayi Foundation underscore his legacy as a national hero and sports promoter.

Likewise, Ikangaa’s achievements in prestigious marathons showcased Tanzania’s prowess on the global stage, earning him admiration and respect.

Bayi sees the words of Mzee Rukhsa, expressing dismay at the underperformance of Tanzanian sports teams, serving as a wake-up call for athletes and sports enthusiasts alike.

Bayi emphasised that his love for sports pained him to speak out and provoke stakeholders in the sports industry.

“Indeed, when he mentioned that we have become like a headless body, he was not referring to a single sport; he meant all sports,” Bayi explained.

Also, Bayi fondly remembers Mwinyi’s unwavering support for sports, recalling his involvement in awarding honours and his impassioned speeches advocating for sports development.

However, challenges persisted even after Mwinyi’s tenure, with some sports facing neglect due to weak leadership within sporting associations.

“I have one memory related to Mzee Mwinyi that touches me deeply. If I remember correctly, in 1995, he awarded me the Union Medal, which is very special to me,” Bayi expressed emotionally.

Additionally, he emphasised the need for serious investment in sports, calling for the establishment of well-funded and professionally managed sports academies akin to those in Western nations and West African countries like Ghana and Nigeria.

“I don’t see any serious sports investment. Investment means having academy centres well-funded and managed more effectively,” Bayi explained.

“Setting up camps like what we do here during competitions is not an investment; we need serious programmes to have strong academies like Western nations and West African countries such as Ghana, Nigeria and others,” Bayi elaborated.

As Tanzania bids farewell to a beloved leader, Bayi said Mzee Rukhsa’s wise counsel and passion for sports will be sorely missed, but his legacy will continue to inspire future generations of athletes and sports enthusiasts alike.

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