by Philip Richards

Tanzania’s elite athletes are eagerly preparing for 2 significant events this year and hoping to improve the country’s medal record in recent times. First, the World Athletics Championships will take place in Beijing in August. Following that, the All Africa Games will be held in Congo-Brazzaville in September (which happens to be the 50th anniver­sary of the Games being held in the country who first hosted it in 1965).

Ismail Juma (5,000m), Alphonce Felix (10,000m), Ezekiel Ngimba and Fabiano Joseph (both marathon) have already run the necessary quali­fying times in recent events and are expected to travel to both events, and other athletes in some shorter distances are also hoping to make qualification times (The Guardian, 14/7/15).

To help them achieve their goal, the sport has received an injection of Tsh 10m from TANAPA (Tanzania National Parks Authority).

Gloomy news continues on the Tanzanian national men’s football scene. After presiding over a string of defeats in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying round, most recently a 0-3 defeat at home to Uganda, Mart Nooij, the Dutch coach of Taifa Stars, has been sacked after 14 months in charge (BBC Sport website 22/6/15). It was reported that the team and coach were booed throughout the Uganda match and Nooij had to be shielded from angry fans by tight security (

Yanga Sports assistant coach Charles Boniface Mkwasa now acts as interim coach whilst a permanent successor is found. The team has been drawn against Malawi in the opening 2-leg qualifying round in October for the 2018 FIFA World Cup; there remains a long journey ahead if the team are to have any chance of making the finals in Russia – if it hap­pens there of course….

Unfortunately the women’s national team have not been faring much better as their under 20’s team went down 4-0 to Zambia in a qualifying game for the 2016 World Cup in Papua New Guinea.


by Philip Richards

Cross Country
Five Tanzanian athletes took part in the world cross-country championships held in Beijing in late March. Hopes were raised that the lean spell since the last time the country won a medal – 1991 when Andrew Sambu triumphed at the Antwerp Championship in Belgium – could end. Whilst there were no medals, the team finished a respectable sixth position in a competition which attracted 410 athletes from 51 nations with Ismail Juma one of the better performing athletes. The post mortem will again focus on the need for more adequate preparation time. (The Guardian 30/3/15)

The drive to find and develop world class players of the future has been strengthened, thanks to a ground-breaking deal worth TSh 16bn between the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and Spain’s football giants Real Madrid to construct an ultra-modern sports complex in Kigamboni, on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam. (The Citizen, 27/1/15)

NSSF director general, Ramadhan Dau revealed that the construction of the NSSF Sports Centre would get underway in the next four weeks. The NSSF-Real Madrid Sports Academy project is the second in the country after the Kidongo Chekundu academy being constructed by Symbion Power and English Premier League side, Sunderland FC.

Not so good news for the national side Taifa Stars who have fallen to 107th in the latest FIFA rankings (Daily News 10/4/15). The next goal is to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations which is a tough group with Nigeria and Egypt (45th and 51st respectively in the current rankings) included, along with Chad (151st).

The senior national cricket team’s delivered a lacklustre performance in this year’s ICC Africa Twenty20 Division 1 Qualifiers in South Africa, which brought together the top six associate members in the continent: Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania and Uganda.

Namibia and Kenya, who finished in the top two spots of the tournament, have secured qualification for the World Twenty20 Qualifiers in Ireland and Scotland later this year, where the top six teams will qualify for the 2016 ICC World Twenty20 finals in India. Tanzania finished last after suffering defeat in all matches to now face relegation to the ICC Africa Twenty20 Division 2 Qualifiers. An anonymous player is quoted as citing lack of competitive friendlies, financial backing, and throwing talented but inexperienced players into high profile tournaments too quickly, as some areas that needed to be addressed by management. (Guardian, 3/4/15)


by Philip Richards

Glasgow Commonwealth Games
Team Tanzania sent 36 athletes to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, in the fields of athletics, table tennis, boxing, judo, cycling and swimming. Disappointingly, the team came home with no medals. With expectations of success set high prior to the Games and after failure at the 2012 Olympics, how will decision makers now respond in developing the natural talent that clearly exists in the country?

Martin Ignatius, popularly known as Mart Nooij, has been appointed as the new head coach of Tanzania’s national team, Taifa Stars. The Dutchman takes over on a 2 year contract from sacked Danish coach Kim Poulsen. It is the second national team job for 59 year old Nooij, who spent four years as coach of Mozambique until 2011, helping them qualify for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations.

Unfortunately, the team has crashed out of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, failing to advance to the qualifying stage proper, after ironically losing to Nooij’s previous charge Mozambique. (BBC Sport website)

Hopes for a new sport
Tanzania will host the Rollball African tournament at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam in August. Rollball? If you didn’t know, the relatively new sport, in which Tanzania participated in the inaugural world cup in 2011, is played between two teams of 12 players on skates in a court of a similar size and shape to a basketball court. Tanzania Rollball Association President Noel Kibunsi described the sport as a combination of roller-skating, basketball, handball and athletics. (

Anyone for chess?
To something more familiar, at the time of writing Tanzania’s national team was leaving for the International Chess Olympiads in Norway, which will be attended by over 200 countries. The National Sports Council is supporting the development and awareness of the game, which appears only to have been recently revived on a more formal basis, in that it can improve thinking especially on a strategic level. This follows a visit by the legendary player Gary Kasparov to Tanzania last January to promote the game as part of his Kasparov Chess Foundation initiative. (


by Philip Richards

Tanzania recently took part in the World League Division 5 tournament in Malaysia with the prospect of promotion. Although they only came third, they did beat Kenya. They will now focus on the ICC-Africa Division 1 tournament in June. (The Citizen)

The Tanzanian women’s cricket team (BBC)

The Tanzanian women’s cricket team (BBC)

Women’s cricket is being lauded for developing holistic skills beyond the game. Tanzania Cricket Association’s programme for young women around the age of 13-14 supports them at a challenging time in their lives, as many are under pressure to find employment at the expense of studies and sport. By contributing to school fees, the TCA hopes to provide a brighter future for the young women themselves whilst strengthening women’s cricket generally. (BBC)

More than 40 athletes are expected to attend international training camps ahead of this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Tanzania is also hoping to send some Paralympic athletes to Glasgow, but there are difficulties in getting the disabled athletes properly classified locally and hence participation is in doubt (

Disabled tennis
We are often astounded by the talent and determination of disabled sportspeople, and Tanzania has its own stories of inspiration. The charity Friends of Children of Tanzania, which helps people with disabilities to excel and express themselves through sport, has a partnership with the Tanzania Tennis Association to promote wheelchair tennis. Men’s and women’s teams recently competed in the All Africa tournament in Kenya, a qualifier for the 2014 Wheelchair Tennis World Cup. Although they did not win their respective tournaments, the women’s team beat the tournament’s eventual winner Kenya.

The national side Taifa Stars have parted ways with their coach Kim Poulsen after he failed to deliver the progress expected during his two years in charge. No successor has yet been named.
In January Eton College launched a pilot project to identify and develop future Tanzanian soccer stars from pupils in rural schools in Arusha and Moshi. The sports master of Eton, Glen Pierce, led a group of three Etonians who are on their gap year before going to university. The project was sponsored by Safari Hub in collaboration with the charity ACE Africa and the Tanzanian High Commission (The Citizen, Daily News).


by Philip Richards

The national team “Taifa Stars” ended their World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign with a disappointing 0-2 defeat away in The Gambia, although they had already failed to qualify for the Brazil finals.

At the time of going to press, the “Kilimanjaro Stars” and the “Zanzibar Heroes” are competing in the Council for East and Central Africa Football Association (CECAFA) regional tournament in Nairobi. Interestingly, this is one event where two separate teams can represent the United Republic; normally it is one, because Zanzibar is not a member of FIFA.

With a nod to longer term aspirations, a three-way partnership between the Ministry of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, the English Premier League side Sunderland FC and the local electricity generator Symbion Power, will see a state of the art football academy set up in Dar es Salaam for elite youngsters. Stewart Hall, who has been coaching top flight local clubs such as Azam FC, has been appointed manager of the complex. The project has the backing of President Kikwete.

The President also welcomed the authentic FIFA World Cup trophy to Tanzania as part of its nine month tour of 88 countries. Speaking at the CCM Kirumba Stadium in Mwanza, where the trophy was on public view, he said that “we owe the world…a big debt….which we and the coming generation should pay at least once in a lifetime, by playing in the World Cup finals and winning the trophy.” (Daily News)

The Tanzanian women’s hockey team made their inaugural appearance in the Africa Hockey Cup of Nations held in Nairobi in November. It was fortuitous that they were there at all, given that they replaced the men’s squad who pulled out due to financial constraints. Although they were soundly beaten by South Africa, who went on to win the compe­tition, the Tanzanian coaching staff were happy with the experience gained during the tournament. (Daily News)

In a similar vein, the Tanzanian women’s volleyball team took part in their first World Cup qualifying tournament in Uganda in October. Despite losing their three games, there were positive benefits from their participation and development plans are in place to improve skills and awareness of the sport.


by Philip Richards

Despite high hopes reported in TA 105, and valiant efforts recognized across the spectrum of Tanzanian society and media, Taifa Stars have sadly failed to qualify for next year’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil. A 2-1 defeat away to Morocco at the beginning of June always made the game a week later against Ivory Coast (top of the FIFA rankings in Africa) a difficult mountain to climb.

Kim Poulsen’s team bowed out of their campaign with a 4-2 defeat in front of a home crowd in Dar, leaving the remaining away game in September against Gambia merely a matter of maintaining pride. Disappointingly, Tanzania have also failed to qualify for the 2014 African Nations Championship, after a 4-1 aggregate defeat against Uganda. As a result of this and the World Cup exit, the national side have dropped 7 places to 128 in the FIFA rankings. (Daily News)

Tanzania sent two athletes to the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow in August. The country’s hopes lay with Faustine Mussa and Mohamed Msenduki, who both competed in the men’s marathon. Alas neither Mussa nor Msenduki were able to bring home a medal, finishing 34th and 39th respectively.
On the domestic front, exciting news that a 2500 seat indoor stadium in Dar is expected to be ready for use by November this year. The Filbert Bayi Indoor Stadium, named after the legendary Tanzanian middle distance runner, will cater for various sports including the construction of an athletics track.
On a less positive note, it has been reported that the national athletics body (Athletics Tanzania) may struggle to run the national champion­ships in Morogoro due to lack of funds. (The Citizen)

Three swimmers represented Tanzania at the FINA World Swimming Championships in Barcelona but did not advance beyond the heat stages.

While Chris Froome’s victory in this year’s Tour de France captured the public imagination in the UK (and to a lesser extent, Kenya, where Froome was borne and began his cycling career), much work is being done to rebuild the reputation and organisation of cycling as a sport in Tanzania.
An example of this is an identification camp recently held in Babati District, Manyara Region. Attended by prominent overseas cyclists, the camp produced four local cyclists who went on to represent Tanzania in the 900km Tour Cycliste du Congo. Maybe we will see a Tanzanian at the start line in Yorkshire next year for the Grand Depart of the 2014 Tour de France ! (The Citizen)


by Philip Richards

Keeping the World Cup dream alive
Taifa Stars kept their hopes alive for making the World Cup 2014 finals in Brazil by delivering a classy, purposeful performance to beat Morocco 3-1 at the National Stadium on 24 March (Daily News). This puts Tanzania only a single point behind Group C leaders Ivory Coast and 4 and 5 points clear of Morocco and Gambia, all sides having played 3 games each. Coach Kim Poulsen’s team will now prepare diligently for the return game in Morocco in June and a home tie against Ivory Coast a week later, with the final game against Gambia in September. Hopefully Tanzanian Affairs will be able to report on some positive news in our next issue. In the meantime, Tanzania continues to move steadily up the FIFA rankings to 119 (out of 207).

Athletics still to fulfil potential

The podium spots for the Kilimanjaro Marathon in early March were domi­nated by Kenyan athletes. However, Tanzania rescued some pride through Zanzibari runner Sarah Ramadhani, who won the women’s half-marathon. This prompted the Minister for Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, Ms Fenella Mukangara, to call for local runners, and the sport regulatory body Athletics Tanzania, to up their performance and bring to an end the country’s shame of organising big events but failing to win (Daily News). The Minister also called for an improved Tanzanian performance in next year’s Commonwealth Games in Scotland, after returning empty-handed from the London Olympics last sum­mer. On a positive note, Tanzania hopes to secure a medal at the World Cross Country Championships in Poland in April.

Focus on cricket
In February, Tanzania took part in the ICC Twenty20 Africa qualifiers in Kampala. Kenya and the hosts (Uganda) qualified for the next round, leaving Tanzania stranded in third place, ahead of Botswana and Nigeria. Tanzania’s Benson Nyaikini Mwiita was named player of the tournament. Cricket has an interesting history in Tanzania. The game was introduced in the late 19th century, with the earliest recorded games taking place on Zanzibar between the British community and the Royal Navy (www.tanzaniacricket. com). The existence of an official cricket association in the country dates back to 1946 when Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika joined up to form the East African Cricket Conference. Tanzania is now one of 36 associate members of the International Cricket Confederation (ICC). The national team reached Division 3 of the ICC World Cricket League in 2006 but more recently its fortunes declined and it currently sits in Division 5.

Visits by India, Pakistan and the MCC have provided exposure for the game in the country. The MCC in late 2012 played four matches against Tanzania Cricket Association XI, the MCC losing all but one of the matches against a mix of Tanzanian national squad members and talented club cricketers. The game in Tanzania is also being embraced by women, although social challenges remain a barrier, especially in retaining young players. (Thanks to David Kelly for his contribution towards this article).


by Philip Richards

Rugby and golf aim for Rio 2016
Despite returning home empty-handed from the 2012 London Olympics, Tanzania is reported to be preparing for two new sports at the 2016 Games (Citizen). The Rio games will introduce golf for the first time and re-introduce rugby union (last seen as an Olympic sport in 1924 in Paris). Golf is a fast growing sport in Tanzania, with 8 clubs affiliated to the Tanzania Golf Union across the country and the 2012 Tanzania Open taking place at the Arusha Gymkhana Club in early November. Rugby union already has affiliate status with the International Rugby Board, but it is understood that the “Twigas” will first need to achieve full membership to participate in the 2016 Olympics.

The continuing ups and downs of football
The national side Taifa Stars hosted Kenya in a friendly encounter in Mwanza in November. The game ended in a 1-0 victory for the hosts and will give coach Kim Poulsen some optimism for the next round of 2014 World Cup qualifying games in the new year. Unfortunately, the same month saw reports in the press that the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) had their bank account frozen and over Shs 157m deducted by the tax authorities for non-payment of taxes on the salaries of foreign coaches (Daily News).

Taifa Queens fight to maintain netball status
In September 2012, the national Tanzanian netball team (Taifa Queens) were ranked 19th in the world netball rankings, making them 4th in Africa (source: IFNA). Their status however has recently been jeopardised by a no-show at a South African tournament earlier in the year and the team is reported in the press to be struggling to fund the trip to the Six Nations tournament in Singapore (Guardian). The recently appointed coach, Mary Protas, hails from Malawi the country which is ranked number 1 for netball in Africa.

STOP PRESS – the Taifa Queens were able to attend and subsequently won the Six Nation tournament.


by Philip Richards

Olympics London 2012
Tanzania were represented by seven athletes in the London Olympics which started on 27 July – three marathon runners, a long distance track runner (5000m), a boxer (welterweight) and two swimmers (100m freestyle). Their training base was Bradford College.

Success for Tanzania was long overdue, with the last medal being won 32 years ago at the Moscow Olympics of 1980. The Daily News reported that, in responding to a claim that Tanzania’s poor showing on the global sporting stage should be a cue to not participating at all and thus avoiding embarrassment, Deputy Minister for Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, Amos Makala, said that the key to future medal success was rather to invest in longer term youth development programmes.

On the other hand, lack of funding and administrative wrangling still appears to hamper sporting success. The former was singled out by ex-Olympic champion Filbert Bayi, who suggested that until more investment was made, the nation should temper their exaggerated expectations of returns in the form of medals (Daily News 5 July). However, The Guardian reported a great deal of excitement around a reward of Tsh 3m, courtesy of a retired army general, to any athlete who brought home a medal – and this in addition to a reported Tsh10m offered by the Tanzania Olympic Committee!

In the event, Tanzania unfortunately failed to secure any medals in London. The marathon runners finished 33rd and 66th respectively – the winner being Ugandan Stephen Kiprotich. None of the other Tanzanian athletes reached their respective finals.

Paralympics – London 2012
The Guardian reported that Zaharani Mwenemti was awarded the sole place offered to Tanzania and will compete in the discus and shot-put.

In seeking to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Taifa Stars (the Tanzanian national side) are currently in second place in Group C (Cote d’Ivoire, Morocco and Gambia) with three points.. The Stars lost 2-0 to Ivory Coast in Abijan, but won 2-1 at home against Gambia. The next assignment will be a challenging one against one of Africa’s strongest nations, Morocco, in March 2013. The Daily News (21 July) reported Kim Poulsen, the Danish-born head coach, as saying that he would be looking for plenty of friendly matches to be organised in advance of that key game to prepare the players.

Unfortunately, in the other high profile football tournament in Africa, the 2013 African Nations Cup, Tanzania were knocked out by Mozambique in a penalty shoot out.

On a more positive note, Tanzania has been moving back up the FIFA rankings in the last few months, though they still rank at a position of 127 (out of 205) and have some way to go to surpass their highest ever ranking of 70 achieved in 1995 (
Thanks to Erick Lihuluku of PwC in Dar es Salaam for his contribution to the above.

Other sports
We hope to cover a variety of sports in future issues. We know that rugby union and cricket are popular, in addition to athletics and soccer. If you would like to hear about a specific sport or have anything to contribute, please let us know.


The Tanzanian under-23 team in action against Cameroon - Issah Michuzi

The Tanzanian Under-23 football team surprised many when they beat Cameroon on penalties after a thrilling return leg match of the 2012 Olympic Games qualifiers. The “Manyara Stars” now face another difficult task having been drawn against the powerful Nigerian team in the next round.

In the domestic league, Young Africans (Yanga) won the league title by the closest of margins. Yanga and arch rivals Simba started the final day with the same number of points, and both managed to win their final games (against Mwanza and Majimaji), but Yanga emerged victorious due to their overall goal difference of 25 compared to Simba’s 24. Yanga were awarded US$25,000 for winning the title and will represent Tanzania in next year’s Champions League.