TAIFA Stars were promised by the government on Thursday this week, through the deputy minister responsible for, among others, sports that it would do all within its power to ensure that their participation in the Afcon finals in Egypt this month goes as smoothly as possible.
What this means is that all members of the contingent making up the team along with top flight officials from the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF), now need to concentrate on nothing, but the tournament.
This is not the first time that the government is coming to the assistance of our national soccer teams.
Three months ago, the government did the same thing when our U-17 Serengeti Boys took part in the African Youth Championship (AYC), which was hosted for the first time in the country’s soccer history by Tanzania.
The government should be commended for doing what it has repeatedly done in the past for our national soccer teams.
But this should not blind us from taking on the present crop of TFF leadership for their repeated failure in preparing our national soccer teams for many international soccer tournaments including the forthcoming Afcon.
The TFF leadership may complain that they don’t have the kind of money which they could have used in preparing Taifa Stars.
But they don’t need to tell us that for the simple reason that is a well-known problem to all of us.
But we are all the same criticizing them because they don’t need money to prepare our teams, but rather well worked out organisation.
When they were elected to their present posts in the TFF over three years ago, I wrote in these very columns why they needed to persuade all regular clubs in the premier league, schools and businessmen and women to establish soccer academies as part of preparing our clubs and national soccer teams.
I said starting with regulars in the premier league like Azam, Young Africans, Simba and Mtibwa Sugar, they could bring pressure to bear on the foregoing to establish such academies which could ultimately provide the future base of their clubs.
I gave a good example of Young Africans which had, through the Romanian coach, Professor Victor Stanculescu, established what would later came to be known as Yanga Kids that would reign in the game for almost two decades.
When the Romanian coach established the team, very few countries in the world were involved in such projects, meaning that had Young Africans continued with the project, Tanzania would not have been where it is today, the mad man’s head, as once noted by former President, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, with which would-be barbers could practice with.
In short, I had wanted the then newly appointed TFF leadership to use their ‘muscles’ as soccer leaders in guiding premier league clubs into doing the right thing for development and growth of the game.
Actually, as the country’s official soccer organisation that is what the TFF leadership should have involved itself with, day in and day out, in the development of the beautiful game.
Simply put, the TFF leadership is not where it is for organising league, but mainly for the development of the game, for ensuring that there is both development and growth in the game which is ultimately measured through success that includes winning continental clubs tournaments, the Afcon and the Fifa World Cup.
The TFF leadership is not elected in order to run to the government of the day with a bowl in hand, but to develop the game.
Had the present crop of the TFF leadership involved themselves in the development of the game, immediately they came to power over three years ago, the face of football in this country would have changed for the better.
The government has now promised, just as it had done in the past, that it is going to foot all Taifa Stars’ bills for this forthcoming Afcon tournament.
But do we have a team that could take us beyond the group stages of the tournament? Your answer is as good as mine, WE DON’T HAVE SUCH TEAM, much as we would have liked to do well in the tournament.
Yet we have one of the best coaches in Africa in the name of Emmanuel Amunike, a man who won everything that needed to be won in the realm of soccer during his playing days.
Yet having one of the best coaches in the continent does not assure one of getting a good, winning outfit, especially when the base of such a team is not good.
Of course, we have Mbwana Samatta and Simon Msuva, but as we all know, that is not enough.
We needed to replicate the entire team with Samattas and Msuvas and that could have only been possible had the present crop of TFF leadership listened to some of us.
Of course, skipper Samatta has promised both the government and Tanzanians that they would put their all in the tournament.
But what did we expect him to tell us? The Almighty God willing, next week I will introduce them (the present crop of the TFF leadership) to a Tanzanian, in fact, a national icon, who did great things for this country without a penny in his pocket and the organisation he was entrusted to lead and how he did it.
In the meantime, whatever happens in the Land of Pharaohs, I wish them all the best.
• Attilio Tagalile is a journalist/author and media consultant based in Dar es Salaam and can be contacted through tagalileattilio@ yahoo.co.uk