THE World Cup which is the most prestigious football tournament in the world as well as the most widely viewed and followed sporting event is now in full swing in different cities of Russia.
From 1930 in Uruguay and after every four years since then, except during the Second World War (1938-45).
Events during the World Cup finals held in different countries have produced joy and happiness (and sometimes sorrow) to millions of people, young and old, around the world.
One of the biggest attractions of the competition is that of bringing together in one country players, officials and spectators from big, small, rich and poor countries which have different political outlooks, cultures, customs and traditions to join hands in the spirit of sportsmanship.
The World Cup also provides many lessons to the players, officials and spectators, whether they watch the games at the stadiums or live on television and other networks to learn from this beautiful and attractive competition.
There is no argument that soccer has for years proved beyond reasonable doubt to possess the power to bring people from all corners of the world together to celebrate good times, upsets and triumphs.
It has even helped to reduce political tension between countries whose leaders were not ready to sit together and talk of their differences.
Moreover, this tournament has over the years helped different ways to remind people the world over that no race, colour or religion is superior in the sports arena.
In the past few years and particularly now we see Latin Americans, Africans, Arabs and even Japanese playing in the European teams andMuslims and Christians playing alongside each other.
Some of the clubs and national teams have coaches from another continent. While enthusiasm and jubilee are evident after success, discouragement and despair are apparent for those were eliminated in different stages of the preliminaries in their respective continents.
Tanzanians, like other people elsewhere, should draw lessons on sports and other issues in their day to day life from the World Cup.
For example, the practice of exchanging jerseys or players embracing one another at the end of the game should remind us all that though we compete to seek honour for our teams we should remain friends and must not allow the pain of defeat to look at our competitors as enemies.
Soccer should not for any excuse be allowed to be the source of conflicts among players or countries, but should inspire us to promote friendship and understanding between people within their country,neighbors and other countries.
Rivalry is an important element in soccer, just like in any other game, but it has its limits.
It should not be stretched to acts of hooliganism or violence which the loss of lives or property.
Officials of our soccer governing bodies on both the Mainland and inZanzibar should use these finals to draw lessons on how best to organize an internal sports tournament.
No doubt the World Cup finals in Russia, just like the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics should help us to think about starting preparations for sometimes in the future may be in the not far distant future, to be hosts of the Africa Cup of Nations or any other continental or international tournament.
Frankly speaking, many Tanzanians are not comfortable to see our teams participate in international competitions as guests of even countries which are poorer than us and politically not stable.
We should also take note how the host country and the other 31 teams which take part in these finals have utilised their soccer legends to inspire the young ones and to help them face the challenge strongly and perfectly.
Some of these legends have travelled with their national teams.
The Federation of International Football Federation (FIFA) has also invited to Russia legends of the World Cup finals, some of them on wheel chairs, to remind themselves of the days when they were stars of this 88 years old competition.
Their presence has triggered feelings of nostalgia among football fans all over the world and provided an attractive scenario as they interacted with the press, officials, players and fans and recalled their experiences in this tournament, Officials of TFF and ZFA should imitate what we see in Russia by attaching some of our soccer legends with the national team and invite them to watch or even select them to be the guests of honour of some of the big matches, such as when Simba face Yanga during the FA and Taifa Cup matches.
It is not fair at all and contrary to the sportsmanship spirit to look at our soccer legends as a spent force? We have to show we appreciate their role of yester years so as to motivate the young ones.
On the other hand, our soccer fans have much to learn from the WorldCup on how fans from different countries cheer and motivate their teams, as well as how at the end of a game or the competition they accept victories and defeats in a civilised manner. The sports journalists should also use the competition as training opportunity.
They should closely listen to the different styles of live broadcasts of the matches, words, phrases and comments used and background information of players and their countries given during a match and outside the pitch and interviewing skills from their experienced professional colleagues.
There are also good lessons to learn for our coaches, sports medicine doctors, referees, officials of football associations and clubs.
Let us all try our level best to draw the right lessons from the on-going World Cup tournament in Russia so that we can do better in soccer, both in and outside the pitch as well as in preparing to host an international soccer competition. Learning is an ongoing process in life.
Let us use the World Cup finals in Russia to learn a few lessons which will help to develop soccer in our country.
- Author of this Article is a former ‘Daily News’ Sports Editor