THE government has finally bowed into the pressure of the football stakeholders on the registration of ten foreign players for the clubs taking part in the Mainland Premier League.
I had initially also supported the registration of ten foreign players. But after reflecting hard on the issue, I opposed, through my sports columns, the move to the hilt. Why? I strongly felt that it had a negative impact on the development and growth of local players just to mention a few.
Other negatives include the fact that on practice, clubs have continued to recruit substandard foreign players. In short, we waste our hard earned foreign currency in buying worthless players from outside the country, players whose level of performance is not very much different from our own players.
On Monday this week, the Minister for Information, Culture and Sports, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, spoke of the need to ensure the quality of foreign players. He said recruited foreign players should be of such high quality that ultimately they should help in raising the standard of local players in the premier league.
If our local premier clubs were bringing the kind of players that the honourable minister spoke of, I would not have been against the move. But the problem is that the kind of players we have and some of whom, have already been recruited do not meet Mwakyembe’s description of high quality and that is where the problem is.
And, talking about high quality foreign players, this is what it actually means; competing for such players with top flight European clubs. Yes, it means getting the kind of foreign players that are also eyed by top flight European clubs, the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and so on.
The question is if our clubs are to compete with the foregoing European clubs, are our local clubs manage to pay the kind of money paid by European clubs which range from a half million euro to a million?
If our budget for both local and foreign players in the region of between one and three billion Tanzanian shillings which is one million US dollars, would our clubs spent between a half million and one million euro on one foreign players?
Those are the kind of questions we need to ask ourselves if we really want to continue with our policy of recruiting ten foreign players. But when all is said and done, I still believe that the best route to success is through the establishment of scientific run soccer academies.
Immediately Young Africans, Dr Mshindo Msolla, was elected the club’s chairman, I told him on the importance of establishing a soccer academy for the club. He told me the club had already a soccer academy. But one thing I know about the club is that just like their arch soccer rivals, Simba, they have a very strong second tier.
In fact, the second tiers of both clubs are stronger than their first teams. The only drawback is that the two teams lack experience. For instance, I strongly believe that had Young Africans fielded their second tier against Simba the other day, they would not have lost that match so heavily.
But knowing the kind of fans the club has, Young Africans bench decided to field all ‘the top players’ the club has for fear that if they did not do that, they would have been ‘skinned alive’ if the second tier had lost even by one goal.
And, this is the second problem that both Young Africans and Simba have, the problem of managing the expectations of their fans. Unfortunately fans from both sides don’t believe in defeats which is nothing but foolhardy. Probably it is time the two clubs started working on the attitudes of their fans.
For the right way forward would be to get rid of all first eleven players including their so called reserve players and promote their second tier players most of whom are below 20. Now if you add high quality foreign players to the either of the two teams both clubs should manage to produce the most exciting clubs in less than two years.
But the proverbial million dollar question is would either of the two clubs except defeat from either team in the league? My guess is as good as your guess. They would be big trouble. And that is one of the reasons it is extremely difficult to run Simba and Young Africans.
This is actually what forced an avid Simba fan, Mzee Salim Bakhressa to establish Azam FC after realising that the money he was pumping to the club he loved was not bringing the desired dividends. In the same vein, I would have expected Azam FC to do better than both Simba and Young Africans because the club does not have the kind of fans the two old clubs have.
Indeed, it is easier to do anything with their team for the Azam FC handlers without earning the wrath of their fans in the event of a defeat. But you cannot do the same thing with Simba and Young Africans as fans of the two clubs brook no experiments for their teams. And, this is not confined to the two top Tanzanian clubs.
It is actually worldwide. I witnessed the same problem when I was working for Radio Deutsche Welle when it was still located in Cologne. You cannot experiment, for instance with clubs like Borussia Dortmund or Bayern Munich. In fact, the Germans are more serious.
You cannot experiment with their national soccer team. When I talk about experiment I mean Die Mannschaft cannot be experimented against national soccer teams, especially those which are considered arch rivals and these include, among others, England and Brazil!