SIMBA, Young Africans, Azam FC, Mtibwa Sugar and Tanzania Prisons are at the peak of Tanzania football excellence as we mark Nyerere Day tomorrow.
They are the household names in football-centric Tanzania, but football, despite its ever growing popularity doesn’t describe Mwalimu Julius Nyerere legacy in Tanzania sports better than athletics and boxing, which earned Tanzania fame at the global level.
What Tanzania is missing at the post-Nyerere era is the ‘omnisportsmanship’, which Nyerere regime created through the InterPrimary, Inter-Secondary School and College games.
From 1970 when Tanzania won its first Club Commonwealth Games in Edinburg, Scotland to 1985 when Nyerere retired, Tanzanian sporting excellence was best described as a country producing stylish boxers and the best long distance runners.
Filbert Bayi, the nation’s first gold medallist, whose 1,500m record in 1974, played part in making Nyerere declare athletics as the country’s national sport. Together with Titus Simba, who won the country’s first silver medal in Edinburg, helped to make the two sports, the biggest medal hope for Tanzania during his tenure.
Today as we mark Mwalimu Nyerere Day, both athletics and boxing seemed to have lost their past stronghold. No more frequent races or bouts as compared to the situation during Nyerere era.
Tanzania has won 21 total medals from 1966 to the last events in 2010, but 12 of them came from Games held in Down Under. According to the record, Tanzanian athletes won 7 medals in Australian soil in the events held there in 1982 and 2006.
It was in 1980 when Tanzania under Mwalimu, claimed its first Olympic medals through Filbert Bayi and Suleiman Nyambui believes 1982 was the banner year in athletics as it was when Tanzania won 5 medals in the Club Games held in Brisbane.
The medals included one gold medal won by Shahanga, two silvers won by Haji Ally and Juma Ikangaa and two bronze medals won by Zakaria Barie and javelin thrower Zakayo Marekwa. We suggest, as the only way to honour him, the two sports must be revived at any cost.
We suggest a nationwide campaign to be launched to motivate the formation of the talent search so as to get good athletes and boxers. We think to enable a successful revival mission, private and government firms or stakeholders must be involved in backing the revival so that athletics and boxing regains their glorious past.