by Philip Richards
The rise and fall (and rise again) of sporting venues
Two stories of contrasting fortunes illustrate the balance of future opportunities and current challenges of sports development in Tanzania, but on this occasion the focus is on infrastructure rather than the sportsmen and sportswomen.
On a positive note, as reported in the Daily News (2/10/20) a new National Indoor Arena indoor arena has been announced in Dodoma which as well as football will aim to accommodate and benefit other sports such as hockey, volleyball, boxing and basketball. The construction of the stadium is also symbolic recognition that the capital city should host a prominent sporting facility which will leapfrog the Benjamin Mkapa stadium in Dar es Salaam in terms of size. It will also boost the nation’s chances of attracting a large competition such as the AFCON with the economic benefits that would bring. Despite these opportunities, commentators note that development of infrastructure has to be accompanied by investment in skills and success both in terms of sportsmen and women but also in terms of football experts such as coaches.
Compare this to tale of Jangwani Grounds. An area in Dar es Salaam of about 400,000 square meters that was once a home of over 20 football pitches, accommodating more than two thousand spectators at one go, now looks more like a swamp – a flood zone thanks to environmental degradation and effects of climate change (as reported by The Citizen 7/11/2020). Jangwani was once seen as a local hub for talent where Dar es Salaam boys and others from upcountry who played football could go to Jangwani Grounds to showcase their talents in a bid to attract the attention of big clubs. However, the pollution of the River Msimbazi together with overpopulation and unplanned settlement has led to the demise of those nostalgic days. Still, hope remains. While football enthusiasts are complaining about the loss of their football pitches, the Ilala Municipal Council through the support from World Bank is planning to return Jangwani Grounds to former glory but this time with modernization with an investment of USD 105m. We look forward to reporting good news on the progress of this project in future TA editions.
TA126 reported on the news that English Premier League club Aston Villa had completed an £8.5m deal for the 27-year-old Tanzanian international captain Mbwana Samatta from the Belgium club Genk. At the time, Aston Villa were struggling to retain their place in the English Premier League and had great hopes for the Tanzanian striker. Despite making a promising start including a goal in the Carabao Cup final meaning the first Tanzanian to score at Wembley, that was one of only two goals for the club and he struggled for form when the Premier League restarted in June. Whilst Aston Villa escaped relegation from the Premier League, Samatta has joined Turkish Club, Fenerbahce on 12-month loan (as reported by The Citizen 25/9/2020).
Better news for success overseas comes in the form of Novatus Dismas, the Azam FC midfielder, who has signed for Israeli giants Maccabi Tel Aviv. As Israeli envoys to the UEFA Champions League, we hope to report on further success for Novatus wearing the Maccabi shirt.