Last weekend the Advanced Players League (APL) in local cricket started in Dar es Salaam with four teams - Castle Rockets, BMTL Super Kings, Tata Super Aces and Uhuru One Rangers competing for the title.
There is great anticipation and excitement surrounding this year’s edition of the event as Kenyan legends such as Steve Tikolo and Thomas Odoyo as well as players from the South African High Performance Academy will feature for some of the teams in the premier cricket championship on the local scene.
This is not the first time that foreign stars have been invited to strut their stuff on the local scene as one could tentatively argue that, the Tanzania Cricket Association (TCA) has done this in a bid to expose our local players to more experienced cricketers in the hope that, they will improve their skills.
In the wider context though, local cricket has unquestionably made massive strides in both the men’s and the women’s game. Thanks to the efforts of the TCA, the national under-19 women’s team admirably won the inaugural African Under -19 women’s championship last year, despite the fact that the women’s game on the local scene is still in its nascent stages.
And as if to prove that this outstanding sporting feat was not a flash in the pan, the national senior women’s team finished second in the African T20 women’s championship in Uganda last year. At this juncture, it is important to remember that all this success has been achieved without the firm foundation that other sports on the local scene take for granted.
Indeed, in contrast to the likes of football and basketball, cricket traditionally has never commanded a wide following as it was seen as a sport reserved for a select segment of the society.
However, this fact did not sit well with the TCA, which over the past decade, has tirelessly sought to broaden the fan base of the sport with spectacular results.
It could be said that the abysmal performances of local sportsmen and sportswomen at international events have almost made us defeatist in our attitude, and resigned to the mediocrity which we have seen in recent years.
Nonetheless, the sterling success achieved in cricket demonstrates that Tanzania is abundantly blessed with sporting talents, which if harnessed, can help us to become a veritable sporting powerhouse.
Lloyd Elipokea is a sports