The miniature world renowned marathoner, Juma Ikangaa, whose name is known to the Japanese more than any diplomat who served as Tanzanian ambassador to Japan has decided to make a difference.
Two weeks ago, Ikangaa gathered courage and collected forms for the Athletics Tanzania’s (AT) top post.
The man’s main objective being to bring athletics fortunes to Tanzania.
Ikangaa says he doesn’t see why Tanzania should not perform well in athletics, internationally, when it has the same geographical terrain and requisite environment, which have been instrumental in producing world class athletes in countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Morocco.
He does not see why Tanzanian athletes should always return home empty-handed whenever international athletic competitions are held, be it at the All African Games, the Commonwealth Games, the Olympics or the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF).
Ikangaa who has lately been extremely busy, has just completed his Masters programme and thinks that it is time he gave back to the community.
Having taken part and won numerous international marathon meetings the world over that include the Fukuoka and New York marathons, Ikangaa is certainly the best man to take Tanzania out of its present athletic doldrums.
Recently the Minister for Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, John Nchimbi, vented his frustrations when the national soccer team, Taifa Stars, failed to beat their Mozambican counterparts in their own backyard in Afcon qualifier.
That massive failure last week was actually one of many that the home side has gone through for the last three decades.
Tanzania which shone the world over in athletics and boxing barely three decades ago through Filbert Bayi, Ikangaa, Gidamas Shahanga, Claver Kamanya, Titus Simba, Habib Kinyogoli and the Matumla brothers is no more.
In fact, it would have made sense had the country also ceased to take part in such international sports competitions.
But the tragedy is Tanzania sportsmen and women have been taking part in each and every international sport meeting, and have always been given the country’s flag by Tanzanian leaders every now and then.
And they have in turn equally done the same thing, returned home empty handed with hordes of excuses year in year out.
Ikangaa now strongly believes that if he is given the opportunity of heading the AT by his fellow Tanzanians, he would be in a position to change the country’s fortunes in athletics.
Having been there himself both as an athlete and champion, he says he already knows the problems and how to fix them.
He says he also knows how to mould a winning athlete.
But for him to deliver, he says, he needs a stage, a platform and that platform is none other than the AT. Although Ikangaa now wants to return as a president, it must be noted that he was once given that chance to lead the body for nine years as secretary-general of which he failed to bring those changes. He led the body from 1997 to 2006 before he was succeded by Suleiman Nyambui.
And since Tanzanians have miserably failed in all sports sectors, Ikangaa’s call is that he should be allowed to start with athletics and the rest of the fields would fall into place in the same way it had done in past when the Bayi and others shot, unexpectedly, onto international sporting arena through the All African Games in Lagos, Nigeria and later in the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, Scotland (1970), Christchurch, New Zealand (1974) and the Olympics in Moscow in 1980.
It would be recalled that it was after such athletics and boxing feats that Taifa Stars made it, for the first time in history, into the Africa Cup of Nations finals (Afcon) in Lagos, 1980 after beating Zambia 1-0 in the last deciding match.
Therefore, Ikangaa believes through his tested guidance, athletics can show the way for the rest of sports fraternity in the country.
Since his retirement from athletics, Ikangaa has been in close contact with former Africa’s 400 metres hurdle champion, Samuel Matete of Zambia.