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We need to change attitudes in sports, education

A FORMER sports editor with the ‘Daily News’ who is presently working for the Voice of America, Dr Hamza Mwamoyo, told journalists at the New Habari 2007, if African Americans decided to go for soccer (as opposed to American football), the world should forget about winning the Fifa World Cup again.

I had then invited Dr Mwamoyo to talk to journalists, specifically on journalism and in particular how local media can strengthen their editorials in order to boost their income. Dr Mwamoyo said if African Americans turned their present passion for American football and basketball to soccer, then the rest of the world would have to forget winning crowns in global soccer tournaments.

In fact, their women have just shown the world that. US women national soccer team has to date won the most Fifa Women World Cup. You can just imagine what would happen if their men, and in particular, African Americans turn to soccer where there is also a lot of money, especially in professional soccer.

The same thing can be said about Tanzania if schools, business men and women turn, in mass, to the introduction of soccer academies. Tanzanian youth would conquer soccer from Africa to the rest of the world. For the time being, the world could be wondering about the likes of Mbwana Samattas and Simon Msuvas.

But the best in soccer is yet to come from Tanzania. The world would know how good Tanzanians are in soccer once the country gets, in the big way, into soccer academies and the good news is that we are already getting there.

The victory by Tanzania Copa Coca Cola’s U-16 Africa Cup of Nations in Thika, Kenya on Thursday this week might have jolted many soccer fans in the region.

To win the tournament, Tanzania beat Zimbabwe by 6-2 and the victory was Tanzania’s first in such a tournament and just goes to show what this country can produce in soccer our attitudes change. The Africa Cup of Nations Copa Coca Cola tournament brings together teams most of which are made primary school pupils.

My readers would recall that two weeks ago, I wrote in these columns how the government could do what it presently does in training primary and secondary school teachers by also training, for a start, abroad, sports instructors for various sports discipline.

I said what we need in this country is to produce as many sports instructors as possible if we want to do well regionally, continentally and globally in everything from soccer to athletics and from basketball to swimming. In fact, what Tanzania need is not Simba, Yanga and Azam FC.

It can even do away with all soccer clubs in the country but still win Afcon and other sports tournaments as long as it produces as many sports instructors as possible.

Tanzania won this year’s Copa Coca Cola’s soccer tournament in Thika, Kenya not because it has Simba, Yanga and Azam FC but because it had well prepared U-16 team and that is the message that ought to go the TFF, Tanzania schools and soccer clubs.

If the foregoing can concentrate on our children, this country can do wonders in sports. Just the other day, During the Hassan Mwakinyo boxing bout at the Uhuru Stadium, there was this young boxer from Tanga, who showed that this country has many Mwakinyos.

The young pugilist’s boxing skills in the ring were second to none on that night and just goes to show what Tanzania can do in sports if the right thing is done. In fact, I can even dare to say that no country in the world can beat Tanzania if Tanzanians themselves invested, heavily, in soccer academies.

What the Ministry of Education need to do is to get away from this tradition of heaping many subjects in all schools. In the long run, that will not get us anywhere. What we also need is establishment of soccer academies that teach, practically, only three subjects, mathematics, languages (English and Kiswahili) and soccer for at least the first 16 years.

If a child does not want to continue with soccer or any academy that could be dealing with say, swimming, athletics or any ball game, then such a child could go back and join normal schools. And provided that, that academy had very good mathematics and language teachers, the student will not get any problem in normal schools.

And the reason is very simple, mathematics is a very strong foundation for science subjects and the languages are also strong foundation for arts subjects. In fact, this is what advanced soccer nations have been doing for years.

Manchester United’s striker, Marcus Rashford is a science student and last year he sat for his advanced science subjects which included chemistry. The player learnt the subjects in Manchester United’s soccer academy and Tanzania can also do that. We need to change instead of clinging to old ideas.

Our main problem is that we tend to think to be good educated is to have Masters and PhDs. Our beliefs in degrees is what led us into turning technical schools into universities!

How can we build industrialisation without technicians? How can we solve our massive unemployment problems without digging deep into sports which is increasingly becoming a new avenue for employment the world over?

• Attilio Tagalile is a journalist/ author and media consultant based in Dar es Salaam and can be contacted through tagalileattilio@yahoo.co.uk

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Author: Attilio Tagalile

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