ON Sunday, we celebrate our 57th birthday as an independent nation, somewhat comforted by the fact that we have made strides in international sporting competitions. In fact, the Tanzania flag has risen severally and its national anthem heard at the medal ceremonies of major international competitions such as Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games and All Africa Games.
For a recap, Filbert Bayi and Suleiman Nyambui both won track and field medals in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, Russia. Bayi’s greatest moment was arguably the 1,500 metres final at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand, when he won the gold medal ahead of New Zealand runner John Walker and Kenyan Ben Jipcho. Bayi set a new world record of 3 minutes 32.16 seconds.
Juma Ikangaa also made his name and that of his country in such races as Boston, Tokyo, Fukuoka and New York Marathons. He also finished second three years in a row at the Boston Marathon from 1988-1990.
Boxing also has a rich history in this country with boxers like Titus Simba, Michael Yombayomba winning medal in Commonwealth Games, where Cricket and golf are also rapidly growing sports in Tanzania.
In the past 57 years though, national soccer team, Taifa Stars has never qualified for the FIFA World Cup and have made just one appearance in the African Cup of Nations, back in 1980, where they finished last in their group with just one draw and two losses.
Nonetheless, it is our humble opinion that in the past 57 years, there has been tardy in displaying the requisite foresight and respect sport deserves, resulting in us not maximising on our sporting potential.
Lady luck could have been attached to achievements attained by individuals and teams mentioned above in the past. At the moment the sector is hampered by acute lack of funds and poor management both restricting the ability of athletes to compete in international competitions.
It is a naked fact that in the past five and half decades, there has been lack of requisite long-term sports development programmes. Which will enable both the government and sports associations to have a common strategy in sports development. It is high time now we have realistic and achievable plans to develop sports in the country.