After almost ten weeks of recess, the Vodacom Premier League (VPL) second round starts today with four matches played at different venues.
We hope that the break has added to competence on the part of players, which should mean that we should expect really competitive and entertaining encounters from all teams represented in the league.
We also believe that the time off has given the organisers of the elite league, Tanzania Football Federation, ample time to plan how to administer the second round in a more professional manner than previously and therefore make matches as controversy-free as possible.
The first round witnessed several cases of poor officiating and suspicious decisions by TFF committees on and off the pitch although, to be honest, there is much improvement over years gone by.
However, as soccer stakeholders, we still underline the need for the national soccer governing body to work towards even better soccer that will see the best team emerging winner and not otherwise. Having winners who will have triumphed on merit will enable the nation to have genuine representatives in international tournaments.
We meanwhile urge TFF to attend to queries or grievances raised by some premier league teams including African Lyon, who are associating the federation with favouring the so-called big guns.
The team has singled out the way their second round assignments were ‘arbitrarily’ rescheduled on Thursday to pave the way for CCM’s 34th anniversary celebrations. It was supposed to play away against Mwanza’s Toto African on February 5 (the climax of the celebrations) and then face Coastal Union in Tanga and later Yanga in Dar es Salaam before returning to the Lake Zone to fight it out with Kagera Sugar in Bukoba on April 14.
Considering the financial and other constraints facing most of our soccer teams and sports bodies, Africa Lyon had every reason to complain. The mess could have been avoided if TFF’s League Committee had consulted widely and cross-checked the fixtures before releasing them.
We therefore call on the federation to move fast on controversies involving fixtures not only to avoid being associated with unbecoming practices such as nepotism but also to spare teams needless costs moving from one corner of the country to another the same week or fortnight.
TFF also announced earlier this week that no local or international television station had applied for permission to air the league’s second round matches live. This was bad for our soccer and should serve as a wake-up call to the federation, which needs to spruce up its marketing department.
Soccer lovers have since heaved a sigh of relief on learning that at least one TV station would air the matches live after all. This is important because such broadcasts can be a good source of funds for TFF, which mainly depends on sponsors and stakeholders, not to mention the fact that they help in marketing our players internationally.
We take this opportunity to urge TFF to plan better for the next premier league season, including ensuring live radio and TV coverage of matches. This will benefit the federation itself, soccer lovers and the nation.