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Why this year’s federation polls would be difficult

THE Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) has announced August 7th this year as the date for General Election and there are plenty of challenges for whoever would like to run for various posts in the federation, and in particular, the extremely hot post of president.

Unlike in the past when competition for the apex was very easy, except of course when the soccer delegates from the regions were looking for a replacement for Leodegar Tenga, who had done quite well during his tenure.

The latest election is not going to be easy, especially for those who would be trying to unseat incumbent, President, Wallece Karia, for the simple reason that much as he has had problems here and there, but to be very fair to the man he has done fairly well in the job.

As I had occasion to note in my last columns, when I criticized him for failing to do what was expected of him, the last time Tanzania qualified for the Afcon tournament was over four decades ago! And, that was in fact, the first time Tanzania had ever qualified for the continent’s prestigious soccer tournament.

But two years ago, Karia sent Tanzania to the Afcon after four decades in limbo and that was no mean achievement much as Taifa Stars lost all their three matches, including the last one against our neighbours to the north, Kenya, in their respective group. Karia’s success here was to get Tanzania to the Afcon. That he did.

His success here was he did that after his predecessors had failed, miserably, in four decades from the day we had the Football Association of Tanzania (FAT) to the day we changed the name to the Tanzania Football Federation. Karia’s second success was to take Tanzania to the CHAN tournament.

This was not the first time for Tanzania to take part in such a tournament. But Karia’s success lay in the fact that Tanzania did better in Cameroun than what it had done in the same tournament in the past.

For the first time in the country’s history, they won one match against Namibia and drew one all against one of the two eventual qualifiers for the last 16, Guinea (Conakry) in a match they allowed the equalizer in the dying minutes of the match! Karia’s only problem was to sack the Burundian coach Etienne Ndayiragije, who guided the Taifa Stars to the CHAN tournament, replacing him with the present national coach, Kim Poulsen.

Had the Burundian remain, I’m quite sure Taifa Stars could have easily qualified for the Afcon by disposing off Equtorial Guinea in the last away match in Malaba, which Poulsen lost by a lone goal. Poulsen mistake was to drop almost the entire squad that had done so well in the CHAN tournament and brought back, in hordes, Simba and Young Africans players, players, who have let Tanzania down times without numbers.

Of course, Karia has also done other good things for the enhancement of the game, which includes, among others, the organization of the game in relations to the development of soccer academies in the country. That is why I have said if Tanzania is to get a better TFF president, then such a person should be better and stronger, administratively, than Karia.

That’s why I said in my opening paragraphs of this column that this year’s TFF elections, and in particular, in relation to the post of president, are not going to be easy because the incumbent president has equally done well on the job. What does this mean? It is very simple.

Those involved in the nomination process, when it comes to getting the right candidates for various posts including that of the president would do soccer fraternity service if they got the soccer electorate the right candidates. The implication of this is that whatever new candidates they decide to bring in, Karia should also be given the opportunity to defend his post.

Such a move would give Tanzanians the opportunity of getting the right president for the TFF.and This year’s TFF elections should be given more democratic space both in terms of candidates who would be picked to vie for different posts and in terms of lining up of candidates.

Ultimately, those who would be responsible for casting their votes should be able to say that ‘we were provided with all candidates we needed to run for different posts in the federation. Simply put, we should not get to a situation where those entrusted to cast their votes would say; “We picked this team because those were the people who had been provided to us by the powers that be. That the right candidates were not given to us to choose from.”

“But whoever, are this time around elected to serve in the federation need to know the kind of problems and challenges that await the federation. For instance, problem number one, we need to have soccer academies up and running. The government has already decided to establish 56 such centres in the country. Again, what does that mean?

We need leaders in the federation who would assist the government in the running of such centres. We need experts and the only soccer expert we know are those who would have been voted to guide the federation for the next few years. Indeed, Tanzania cannot continue to serve as a by-stander in the continental soccer tournaments. I wish all the best for those who would be elected to serve in the new federation.

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