Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) information officer Boniface Wambura was lately on record lamenting the lack of soccer academies and what this means for the development of the sport.
It was a remark that could be rapidly grasped by newspaper readers who has seen a photo, in some magazines, of a very young Lionel Messi in his childhood team in native Argentina.
He looked among the younger members of the team, and by approximation he could have been in standard one or two of primary school, just.
The photo illustrated what could happen in any country where young people as little as standard one pupils have a proper team, coach and some sort of league of their own.
The uniform they put on would resemble, in England premier league terms, like an Arsenal jersey, but Messi nonetheless was picked up by Barcelona later.
And as it is clear in the photo, he would face physical constraints to play football at a high level so the medical term worked out a program for the nutritional rectification of his physique, a marvel.
That is really the basic intelligence about soccer development anywhere in the world, that in the final analysis it is a matter of starting to teach the game when the boys are quite young, so as to build the right reflexes gradually.
While it is true the TFF information officer should have been explaining what is being done to fill the gap of soccer academies instead of lamenting like a bystander or a minor stakeholder, the facts remain the same. Indeed his attitude suggests that our soccer authorities see just a dark tunnel.
The task before all TFF stakeholders is to find out how to get out of this quandary in soccer development, whereby the government can’t build academies and private investors would rather focus on schools, not soccer pupils.
Due to routine habits in the country, stakeholders like TFF repeat the mantra of the necessity to ‘prioritize’ sports academies or soccer in particular, which means elbowing out other crying needs either in the ministry or in government generally. That method is a non-starter; sport is always last.
Since TFF president is also president of the regional body, and for that matter a qualified engineer and business administrator, he is in a good position to organize extensive study or hard thinking on the matter.
There are various ways, like calling a meeting of stakeholders since they are experts in the matter in a practical context, or make study of various countries, letting a university make such a study as to how Tanzania can develop such facilities. The only guide is to avoid a lazy answer that the government should prioritize the matter as it can only provide a coach for one or two major sports, that’s all.
The issue is how such facilitate arise commercially or in a community sense, sustainably; without being sustainable on its own, a few structures could be put up, and die out soon.