Buy desks, revive School Games as well

22Jun 2016
Michael Mwebe
The Guardian
Buy desks, revive School Games as well

WHILE acquisition of desks for schools is of paramount importance, sporting still retain its ususal room for students.

Students parade during School Games finals in Dar es Salaam.

The annual School Games finals that were scheduled to be held in Mwanza have been shelved this time. However, the deep phobia remains whether this decision is temporary or will extend to next season as well?

A strong correlation exists between desks and sporting though the former overshadows the later. Desks should come first before the students can join fields of play after academic works during the day. Not all students can excel in sports but it accounts for very special place in human being lifestyle.

The government decision to scrap this year’s nationwide school sports competition for both primary and secondary School Games has come as shock to sports lovers.

While the government says its decision to stop funding school sports competitions is only temporary and meant to focus on buying more desks for pupils, many see this as an end to the once colurful Umitashumita and Umisseta tournaments.

Those fears are based on the government indication on cutting sports funding. The red lights were flashed when the government decided to reverse its decision of paying national team coach’s salaries late last year.

Tanzania Football Federation was the first victim of the government new approach to cutting sports funds. Taifa Stars head coach, Charles Mkwasa has gone for more than six months without being paid his wages.

Thus, for some the decision to abruptly halt school sports tournament funding did not come as a surprise.

As much as we might oppose the decision, let us not forget to reflect on the real effectiveness of the Umitamshumita and Umisseta inter-school sports competitions.

The big question is whether the government would have stopped funding Umisseta and Umitashumita if the tournaments were very successful in producing real nationwide sports heroes?

The aim of the inter-school sports competition was to form a partnership network to give pupils access to sports competitions and also promote healthy lifestyle.

Umisseta and Umitashumita Games should have been the bedrock of success in sports. This begs the question, if Umisseta and Umitashumita in their current form have been effective, then why is our nation mediocre in sports?

How many public schools especially the newly built ones have basketball courts, volleyball pitches, running tracks, netball pitches?

If there are hardly no such facilities in most new schools, how do we expect to have competitive inter-school tournaments?

The decision to scrap this year’s editions was harsh but it could as well be an opportune moment to reflect and rethink over the next step forward for the tournaments that have lost their lustre and broad appeal.

At their peak, Umisseta and Umitashumita tournaments were the talk of the town, dominating public talks everywhere. For instance in the 1990’s a game between Mwanza based schools, Mwanza Secondary School and Lake Secondary brought the entire Mwanza town to a standstill.

CCM Kirumba or Nyamagana Stadium that even Simba and Yanga struggle to half-fill them nowadays were always packed to the rafters whenever the two rivals schools played against each other.

The Umisseta tournaments were so competitive that top flight clubs would scout and sign outstanding players.

Gone are those days, we are left with tournaments that don’t command appeal even among schools themselves. Games are hosted in near empty venues as students don’t see any value in cheering a team they don’t know.

The standards are very low and very few games being played. Apart from athetics and football most schools struggle to fill an entire team.

Time haschanged, it is something we have to accept and adjust the inter-school sports competitions to reflect the times we are living.

It is not lost on some of us that last year, TFF requested to organise Umisseta and Umitashumita football tournaments but the responsible ministries rejected.

Now is the time to sit down with sports bodies like TFF, Chaneta and AT to see how Umitashumita and Umisseta can be re-invented to recapture their lost appeal and more importsnt serve their purpose in the ever dynamic sports industry.