IN a country whose football is governed by mighty Simba-Young Africans’ fan base, private firms and individuals continue to play a vital role in the development of the league which both giants are its key players.
It has been found that poor management, lack of focus and lack of effective financial sponsorship have contributed much to the retardation of sports in the country, now seeking to regain its past sporting glory.
While most of that sports that Tanzanians excelled during the state monopoly are slowly showing signs of regaining life, several private firms are now on increase to support the revival of sports, with football being the most favoured.
At the moment local sports-oriented companies like Azam are trying to spread tentacles to all corners of the country and even trying to reach a regional market. Vodacom Tanzania as the league title sponsor, the premier league has also managed to lure other firms too, most notably Tanzania Breweries Limited, NMB, Azam, Cowbell, Kagera Sugar or Mtibwa.
From what private firms and individuals offered as supports to the football teams, the football fraternity has fully realised that the progress of sports in the country should not be left to the state alone since individuals and private firms have also a role to play in it.
Financial institutions such as banks have also played a vital role in developing sports as sponsors recently Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) Tanzania Limited was the force to reckon with in what it introduced in East Africa as Road to Anfield football promotion. Held in Dar es Salaam recently, Standard Chartered Trophy-Road to Anfield which brought together people of all walks of life in and outside the country brought revitalised football of the people who thought their playing days were over.
Also drawing teams and players from Kenya and Uganda, Road to Anfield Competition was a good platform to foster the growth of East Africa Community (EAC). In his inaugural speech during the launch of 2017 Road to Anfield on February 9 at JMK Youth Park in Dar es Salaam, the Bank’s Chief Executive Officer Sanjay Rughani said it was rare to see bank officials talking about football. The CEO spoke openly that he was there to talk about launching a football tournament which will enhance fitness and friendship.
The bank according to him understands that football is the most loved sport in Tanzania and across the world hence the bank has responsibility to engage football fans in this opportunity that ‘money cannot buy’. The historic football event was graced by Liverpool FC legend John Barnes whose presence helped to glorify the tournament. Barnes is known globally as he was a key player during the glorious days of Liverpool and helped the team win various trophies during his active career.
On the same day, the guest of honour, Dioniz Malinzi who is the Chairman of the National Sports Council also said he wished that a team from home soil will win the tournament no matter what the circumstances could be. In the end, his whishes came into reality.
It seemed every person had trust in Tanzanians that having the competition been played on their own territory, the only way out was to become the victors.
The official inauguration of the Road to Anfield competition on February 25, saw 32 teams participating in the tournament graced by the Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports Nape Nnauye who said his aim was to see a team from Tanzania making it to Liverpool FC’s iconic Stadium.
At the end, two teams; Azania Group and H&R Consultancy qualified for the final. The match ended in 1-1 draw hence spot kicks had to be applied and Azania Group won the silverware. Standard Chartered Bank Tanzania said in her congratulatory speech after the intense finale.
Liverpool icon John Barnes graced the regional tournament and wished the Tanzanian team to win a tour to England. He furthermore praised the country’s Under- 17 Serengeti Boys for their qualification to Gabon of which he described as a ‘big milestone’ in terms of football advancement.
On March 3, Barnes gave Serengeti Boys players some football tactics and secrets that will help them perform wonders in Gabon. It was a wonderful experience seeing the young boys interacting well with the Liverpool legend, who, was more than willing to assist the boys.
Barnes warned football authorities in the country to take care of the boys since he saw best skills in them. At Serena Hotel on the same day, Barnes was introduced to all the three teams to participate in the grand final.
They included the hosts Azania Group, Capital FM from Kenya and Coca Cola from Uganda. The second phase of the competition came into closure on Saturday, March 4 at JMK Youth Park and truly, Tanzanian side, Azania Group made it to Anfield following a hard fought win over the former defending champions Capital FM from Kenya.
Both teams accumulated seven points, but the former went through on goal difference. The success of Azania Group team speaks of the success of the Road to Anfield tournament.
It is beyond doubt that Road to Anfield competition had a private firm and individuals engaged in fast-tracking development of sports; and as Barnes noted, competitive games can be developed if the same private firms and individuals decide seriously to work closely with the government to make sports a source of income generation for the majority youth.