Sports tourism? Cricket Festival tells it all

AS the country marks two years since President Samia Suluhu took the country’s helm, Tanzania is fast gaining global success that deep ventures in sports tourism.

Cricket legend reunite speaks everything good, the country is now doing under President Samia Suluhu Hassan. Her leadership has already done a wonderful job to turn sports, not only as competitive to national teams and individual performance, but a series of events that open new doors to tourism and people reunite through sports involving Tanzanians living here and abroad.

Under President, Samia Tanzania has opened a new chapter in Sports tourism and one of them was a reunion of 37 cricket legends.

They reunited in Dar es Salaam to participate in the Patel Brotherhood Patel Samaj (PBPS) Cricket Festival held successfully in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.

This historical event was staged in October last year when the old guard cricketers participated in the Cricket Festival sponsored by Commercial & Agricultural House M/s Exporters Trading Group ( ETG). Among others, the cricket veterans were part of the cricket workshop organised for young cricketers and they also played along with the veteran cricketers based in the country and as well men and women wings of Tanzania Cricket Association (TCA).

It was great to work with legends’ group leader Kanu Rathod and Tanzania Veterans Cricketers’ Reunion 2022’s Chief Coordinator, Dinesh Vaishnav.

They were also assisted by the PBPS team led by Chair Harish Patel and frequently assisted by Secretary Jigar Patel, Pinal Patel, and Yagnesh Patel helping to plan a reunite of the Cricket Legends and that rewrote history. It was a reunited of old and new cricketers in Tanzania.

Vaishnav, who formerly served TCA as its Secretary General and National Sports Council (NSC) as a member, was overwhelmed with joy when they reunited the legends most of them aged over 65 years who have been away from the country for over 30 years.

Cricket Legends were proud also to meet the eldest man in the group, Ramesh Patel, 86 the former cricket star now based in England who arrived for specially for the Festival. But what brought back the legends is their love for their country of birth after so many years away. They all lured by the strong leadership of President Samia.

As Vaishnav said, the idea started way back on 21 May 2021, after being informed by home loving friends and launched a WhatsApp Group for Tanzania’s Veteran Cricketers.

The idea just started two months after President Samia entered office and that is what attracted many sports personalities in the country but also those outside. Vaishnav said: “I did not even dream of the distance that this group would cover to reach the stage where they are today.” As they all said, their objective was very simple, just to resurrect the history of cricket that once upon a time – bound them together in the then Tanganyika and now what they all call “Authentic Tanzania”.

It is true that it was fitting for legendary cricketers to celebrate cricket and cricketers of the past and present on the land of Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar but also for their love for the game that brought them back.

Among legendary cricketers from abroad who arrived, some with their families to participate in the festival, are Patadia brothers Hitesh, Dinesh and Kaushik, Mr & Mrs Pradip Thakrar, Bhavin Vaishnav, Mrs Nila Joshi, Ahmed Osman and Yusuf Somji all from the United States of America.

Those from England were Pradip Vanza & Family, Kanu Rathod, Jitu Patel, Narendra Nagar, Kishore Chavda, Mr & Mrs Hitesh Patel, Kiran Patel, Pranlal Divecha, Taher Amijee, Sunil Vaghela, Kanak Khetia and Jay Labh Gadhvi. From Canada were Mr & Mrs Shabir Kaderbhai, Kishore Gajjar, Chandrika Gajjar, Dhirubhai Mistry, Niru Mistry, Bashir Ramzan, Tarlochan Singh Sandhu and Akbar Pirbhai.

Also in the list there were Sikandar Fazal from Dubai and Chandra Shekhar Baxi from India.

Rathod was thankful that all legends managed to rejoin their mates in the historical trip to see and feel Tanzania. The tour also opened a new chapter as it also brightened Zanzibar after the successful Dar es Salaam festival. Born in the early 1950s in Zanzibar, Rathod describes how feels blessed and lucky to be originated from Isles.

The England-based veteran was in the country after 47 years, expressing his gladness to God after his blessing to land on Tanzania soil again, especially after 2016 went coma for about four days and no one thought he would be alive today.

He described Zanzibar and Tanzania as blessed lands with successful sports personalities and thanked President Samia who made it easy for them to come back and stage the cricket festival.

He said since most of them left Tanzania about fifty to sixty years ago and they never met each other and that was the first step to make the reunion an annual event that develops the game and make the country proud.

The veterans have all it takes to help the new generation in Tanzania with sports and life skills which is very important. The October Zanzibar trip was a huge success and having met Zanzibar Cricket Association and also received a letter from the government as Zanzibar cricket, the game will soon see a new dawn.

The move was also lauded by India High Commissioner to Tanzania in Dar es Salaam during the reception. On behalf of the High Commissioner, the Deputy High Commissioner, Manoj Verma said legends’ cricket reunite tour was worthy as t made the veterans from around the globe tour their country.

He appreciated the efforts of the hosts in setting the stage for the promotion and development of cricket. The first Tanzanian lady to play cricket Eunice Moyo, who was among the legends, has was hailed as she is an inspiration to the young players.

Elsewhere, the two years of President Samia also put the country into the spotlight on the field as two players made landmark performances in the year 2022 in T20 International Cricket. Yalinde Nkanya – Left arm spin bowler, topped the world rankings for most wickets in T20 International for the year 2022 with 45 wickets while Ivan Ismail – Opening batter for the National team scored 663 runs in 28 innings in T20 Internationals ranking him at 10th position overall in the world amongst the elites of the game.

This was the first time for any Tanzanian player/s to be able to break into the Top 10 rankings of a calendar year according to TCA.

It’s indeed a moment of great pride for Tanzanian cricket for the performances of the National team lately and through these individual performances to be able to get recognition worldwide.

June 18, 2022, the national cricket women’s U-19 team also won The Kwibuka T20 Tournament in Rwanda beating strong teams like hosts Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Botswana, Nigeria, Brazil and German.

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