Sports Associations Take Note: It’s Time to Play by the TFF Playbook!

Greetings from the vibrant stage of the All-African Games in Accra, Ghana, where nations have converged, and athletes shining like stars in the night sky.

In this sporting fiesta, Tanzania takes centre stage; its sports scene radiating brilliance rivalling evens the most dazzling disco ball!

As this extravaganza rages on, a whopping 53 countries strut their athletic prowess across 23 disciplines, offering a feast of a variety of sports disciplines like an Eid Day buffet.

Dr Damas Ndumbaro

From the lightning-fast sprints to the graceful strokes in the pool, and the fierce showdowns of arm wrestling to the sun-soaked sands of beach volleyball, it is an eclectic celebration of athleticism.

Amidst this thrilling spectacle, Tanzania emerges, boasting a formidable team of 75 athletes prepared to rock the showpiece.

Leading this charge is none other than Dr Damas Ndumbaro, the dynamic Culture, Arts, and Sports Minister. Known for his resolute demeanour, this Mheshimiwa doesn’t believe in subtle farewells – oh no!

His words during a farewell dinner for the athletes echoed through the hall like a rallying cry, reverberating with determination and vigour.

“Gone are the days of empty-handed returns, people! We need to see medals here!” he bellows, transforming the farewell into a call to arms.

It is as if he is dispatching our athletes to a battlefield, armed not only with determination but also with the national flag fluttering proudly above them.

So, as Tanzania’s athletes embarked on this thrilling journey, guided by the spirited leadership of Dr. Ndumbaro, the nation eagerly anticipated a great performance.

A performance that will not only dazzle the sports arenas there, but also etch the Tanzanian spirit onto the canvas of sporting history.

But hold your applause because we have another Mheshimiwa – Hon. Hamis Mwinjuma, affectionately known as Mwana FA – the deputy to Dr. Ndumbaro.

Hamis Mwinjuma

Now, let me tell you, Mwana FA knows how to host a dinner, especially when it is for Tanzanian athletes, in Accra.

Amidst the clinking of glasses and the sizzle of grilled delights, the ‘philosopher’ is not just serving up dinner.

But he is also dishing out a hefty dose of the government’s commitment to sports that could rival any motivational speaker.

From financial investments to bolstering sports infrastructure, from providing much-needed financial support to advocating for additional disciplines, Mwana FA has got it all covered.

It is like he is playing a game of sports development, carefully stacking up the pieces for Tanzania’s athletic future.

He probably must have also used this occasion to tackle the elephant on the field – the blame game back home. Ah, yes, the blame game, where fingers fly faster than a Stephane Aziz Ki or Clatous Chota Chama free kick – outside the box….

With some pointing fingers like toddlers in a candy shop, accusing the government of everything under the sun, it is just crazy.

Sure, some might accuse the government of playing favourites with football, but seriously, blaming the government for sports woes is like blaming your GPS for taking you to the wrong address.

Surely, it is time to end the blame game and grab the steering wheel of success, jamani! And speaking of steering wheels, let us not forget the timeless wisdom of “God helps those who help themselves.”

Oh yeah, it is about time we also sprinkle some divine self-initiative and agency into the mix. Because when it comes to sports, it is not just about waiting for divine intervention – it is about rolling up our sleeves and making it happen.

So, as Mwana FA leads the charge in Accra, let us rally behind our athletes, fuelled by commitment, determination, and a sprinkle of divine inspiration.

Meanwhile, our sleuths are on fire, reporting that some Tanzanian sports associations are the opposite of our unsung heroes.

Instead of working hard to send teams to the All-Africa Games, they joined in the blame squad to sling mud all over the place. At this juncture, let us take a bow to the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF), for being a shining example of how to run a sports organisation.

With TFF’s president Wallace Karia, the wizard with Midas hands behind the scenes, everything TFF touches turns to gold.

Formerly known as FAT (Football Association of Tanzania), the TFF has undergone more transformations than the Ramadhani Brother’s costume changes between shows.

From its roots in 1930 as TFA (Tanganyika Football Association) to its rebirth as TFF in 2004, it has twirled through with the finesse of a serious dad and the resilience of a loving mum.

The TFF has proven itself of being not just a football federation; it is Tanzania’s textbook symphony of sports success.

Taifa Stars AFCON 2023| Mwanaspoti

Sure, every human endeavour encounter hiccups, but it has pirouetted through all obstacles like a referee in a hotly disputed penalty shootout. While the premier league shines like a diamond in Africa’s football crown, the Taifa Stars’ back-to-back AFCON appearance has left many mouths agape.

As are Tanzanian clubs storming the continental club tournament’s quarterfinals not mere footnotes. These anthems of success, that include the nod to co-host the prestigious CHAN 2024 and AFCON 2027, are written in football ink.

And let us not forget the Twiga Stars, the women’s national football team, poised to dazzle at the WAFCON championship in Morocco, come July this year.

That is not mentioning the ‘Kapu la Mama’ marvel, that could not have been made available had Mama herself not been impressed by TFF’s energies.

As other sports organisations scramble to catch up, the lesson here is clear: stop dwelling on blunders, take a cue from the TFF playbook, and act. In the on-going AllAfrica Games in Accra, Tanzania proudly showcases its dexterity across a varied range of disciplines.

These include Cycling, Athletics, Swimming, Boxing, Cricket, Judo, and the Under-20 Women’s Football Team, affectionately known as the ‘Tanzanites.’

Among associations of these disciplines, Athletics Tanzania (AT) stands out as a firm organisation, boasting a legacy of established prominence.

AT, the National Governing body responsible for Track and Field games, can safely be considered the second-best organisation after TFF.

Affiliated with the World Athletics (WA), the international governing body of Athletics, AT has also made some strides to be worthy of praise. Its athletes have continued to shine in international stadia with medal conquests time and again.

Sadly, it lacks TFF’s vigour, concentrating mostly on the lucrative marathon events, while neglecting other games that once upon a time were Tanzania’s pride.

Remember the good old days when names like Norman Chihota, Clever Kamanya and Jumanne Chobanga were the talk of the town?

They were the Usain Bolts of Tanzania, always sprinting to glory, leaving their competitors in the dust. Let us also remember women track and field icons, who were mobbed by fans wherever they went, just like movie or music stars today.

They include Mosi Ally, Nzaeli Kyomo, Genia Mboma, Lwiza John and others, who used to dominate short-distance sprint events like bosses.

Shot put queen Catherine Nyamko, discus thrower Nancy Mtawali, and javelin princess Mwanaamina Mkwayu are also on the list.

But their respective games today are buried as are their names, and long forgotten due to one of the craziest reasons on earth.

Marathon! One of the key objectives of AT is to ensure that sports put Tanzania in its rightful place in the world stage.

But one can just wonder how they can achieve that with only the marathon on their plate? In the grand game of sports, AT and other sports associations need to steal a page from the TFF playbook.

It’s not a crime! And no excuses should be entertained…. Associations should embark on a strategic journey, mapping out their goals and objectives like a team plotting its winning tactic.

Gone are the days of relying solely on government funding; it is time for sports associations to tap into the gold mine of alternative revenue sources. In their financial playbook, sponsorships, donations, and private company partnerships should be the MVPs.

Just as a team needs a solid starting line-up, associations should strengthen their leadership teams, ensuring they are transparent and accountable in their decision-making.

Investing in grassroots development programs is the other secret ingredient. Identify and nurture talent from the wee ages, creating a conveyor belt of future sports stars, like planting the seeds for a garden of athletic greatness.

Tanzania Football Federation – TFF

Following TFF’s lead, sports associations should form alliances with other sports organisations, schools, and community groups.

This is not just about networking; it is expanding the league of extraordinary sports enthusiasts. On-going training and education are the playbook amendments that associations desperately need.

Coaches, officials, and athletes should be on a perpetual journey of improving their skills and knowledge.

Most importantly, like a sports team with a winning streak, associations should be masters of promotion.

Marketing, media, and PR efforts should be the cheerleaders’, increasing awareness and participation in their sport.

There are no shortcuts in this endurance contest.

Sponsors love things that attract crowds, that assures them maximum visibility of their products. Therefore, like TFF, associations must play matchmakers, forging strong relationships with stakeholders.

They should consider it a high-stakes speed dating game but for sports support.

Ultimately, it is not just about scoring goals or winning medals. This is about building a fan base that cheers, a community that rallies, and a legacy that lasts. Game on, sports associations, game on!

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