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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tanzania: AT Must Implement Kikwete's Directive

Juma Ikangaa (C)

PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete has directedd Athletics Tanzania (AT) leaders to work hard on improving the standard of the sport and turn around the country's athletics fortune.

This is a timely move, indeed, considering the fact that Tanzania, once a powerhouse, is now among countries described as the 'whipping boys' in the world due to its lackadaisical performance in international competitions.

One way of reversing the trend and restoring the country's lost glory, according to the president, is for AT to unearth talent and groom them into future stars.

This can only be achieved if the federation conducts a thorough research in areas that are considered to be a reservoir of athletics raw talent. Such areas include Singida, Mbulu, Karatu and Masaai land, which lie in the Rift Valley where most star athletes in Africa, south of the Sahara, come from.

Tanzania used to excel in the international scene through athletes hailing from these places. They include incumbent Tanzania Olympic Committee (TOC) secretary general Filbert Bayi, the proud holder of the Commonwealth Games 1,500 metres record he set 40 years ago in Christchurch, New Zealand, Gidamis Shahanga, Juma Ikangaa and Zacharia Barie, just to name a few.

Neighbouring Kenya and Ethiopia continue to cash in on athletes from the Rift Valley to rule the world in middle and long distances. It's obvious that once a survey is conducted and AT leaders invest heavily in the breeding grounds the country, which has abundant athletics talent, will have a new lease of life.
And as President Kikwete said, all that is needed is seriousness and commitment. The federation also needs to heed the president's advice on drawing up comprehensive development programmes that will produce good athletes and have a wider range for selection during international assignments.

AT's top brass, including president Anthony Mtaka and secretary general Suleiman Nyambui, who, fortunately, is among legends who made the country proud in those good old days, must be innovative and come up with solid, applicable development programmes that will produce star athletes, instead of entertaining perpetual complaints and heaping blame on others for their misdeeds.

They need just to borrow a leaf from their advanced neighbors Kenya, who are faring well in athletics because they have invested heavily in the right places and have succeeded in grooming many talented athletes who are performing wonders in the sport worldwide.


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