Men's soccer enjoys massive attention from the Tanzania Football Federation and other stakeholders alike, but the women’s version of the game is not as fortunate.
By all indications, the Tanzania Women Football Association has a long way to go before fully establishing itself as an organ adequately empowered to do the country proud.
Last weekend’s elimination of the Tanzania national women’s soccer team, Twiga Stars, from the African championship highlights the need to introduce country-wide divisional leagues to tap and hone talents.
TWFA is running a league based in Dar es Salaam, while the other parts of the country are overlooked.
Twiga Stars team mainly comprises players from Dar es Salaam and only a handful from upcountry and Zanzibar combined.
Having countrywide leagues similar to the ones we have in men’s soccer would identify talents that could be developed into women soccer players to be reckoned with. Therefore, TWFA would be well advised to work hard now to gradually start such leagues.
Banking on Dar es Salaam-based players should not be viewed as the beginning and end of it all as it would leave a lot of promising young talent lying idle.
Starting such leagues would certainly involve complex logistics, including searching for stable sponsorship and stadiums, but that should not be an insurmountable problem.
In case leagues for street teams might appear hard to start and oversee, then TWFA can make use of primary and secondary schools where players are readily available.
That would probably mean teaming up with primary and secondary school teachers in putting the leagues in place. This initiative could be difficult to undertake at the beginning but determination would lead to a breakthrough.
TWFA officials should not think of realising overnight achievements but should aim for long-term glory. In this regard, they could take a leaf from success stories such as Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea.
TWFA could plan to establish a network of federations in regions across the country, with a view to easing the job of introducing leagues at school, street club and other levels.
We need to have women soccer players who have been professionally groomed right from the grassroots level if we are to make enough impact at the continental stage and beyond.
Banking on Dar es Salaam players should by no means be discouraged, but the quest to expand the horizon ought to remain a top priority.
Talent scouting proliferation should be intensified, regardless of the seriousness of any drawbacks or challenges on the way.
Twiga Stars’ failure to qualify for the African Women Championship should serve as an inspiration towards building up a more formidable side to feature in forthcoming assignments.
We believe that TWFA has ample time to plan ahead before establishing an outfit for future qualifiers of the biennial continental championship as well as other tournaments.
Losing and winning are both part of soccer, and Wednesday’s loss by Twiga Stars should serve to make the team sit up and perform better next time – and thereafter.