Tanzania has yet to benefit from basketball

01Dec 2021
Nassir Nchimbi
The Guardian
Tanzania has yet to benefit from basketball

HE is one of the best and attractions among basketball players in Tanzania at the moment due to his impressive performance on the field which has been influencing many fans of the game in the country.

Unguja women's basketball squad's forward, Caren Anderson, slots in a point when her side battled it out in this year's national basketball tournament, known as the 'CRDB Bank Taifa Cup', which is taking place at Chinangali courts in Dodoma. PHOTO: COURTESY OF CRDB BANK PLC 

I'm talking about Enrico Agustino, a baller turning out for Dar es Salaam's Army Basketball Club (ABC) owned by the Tanzania People's Defense Forces.

The player emerged as the top scorer of the Dar es Salaam Regional Basketball Association (RBA) League after scoring 263 points.

Agustino further emerged as the top scorer of the National Basketball League (NBL) after scoring 165 points.

The basketball player also emerged as the Most Valuable Player of the NBL due to the high level he showed in the tournament held last month in Arusha while helping ABC excel in the showpiece.

The performer says Tanzania has a lot of talent in hoops but it is found wanting in infrastructure, especially stadiums, hoops leagues lacking sponsors.

The baller pointed out that the drawbacks turn out to be the biggest obstacles to the efforts to develop the game.

He says many local players play the game as a hobby just because they like it but it does not benefit them at all due to the various leagues being played without sponsorship.

On various occasions, hoops squads compete for free in tournaments without getting anything.

He says they need more sponsors to come forward to sponsor various hoops competitions to give the game value.

"The ballers who are playing this game must benefit because in recent years things were different, many people play but do not know how basketball benefits them in a different way, which can hardly be likened to players who used to play basketball and benefitted from it.''

"I think something needs to be done to get this game back on track, including finding sponsors.''

The Tanzania Basketball Federation (TBF) and regional associations need to be well organized as many sponsors are afraid of committing to the game because they do not even know what the league system is like,'' Agustino pointed out.

"The TBF leaders, the regional associations have a lot of work to do to restore this game to its former glory.'' 

''We are happy to see CRDB Baks work hard right now to enter and sponsor various competitions and that gives the impetus to many young people to fight and come in large numbers to play as there are some who get scholarships.''

''We ought to see to see more companies back the sport so that more players can enjoy playing, considering the performers know there is something they are benefiting from,'' Augustino noted.

He appealed to the government to concentrate on promoting the game of basketball, stressing the sport deserves investment.

"We know that football is a popular sport in the world and that is why even the government, in many of its sessions, mentions football but they should also look at other sports including basketball, it can also make the country proud.''

"We need more local stadiums for this game as the problem of lack of stadiums is huge in this country and needs to be looked at broadly and addressed to further discover more talent in this sport,'' Augustino said.

ABC was one of the best teams in the RBA last season but it found itself unable to win the title ahead of Savio Basketball Club despite playing five final games.

This hurt Augustino but he eventually accepted the results but vowed they must win the NBL top honour.

ABC went on to clinch the NBL title and thus fulfilled Augustino's goals.

"Losing the RBA League title hurts me, not only me but all my teammates but, in the end, he who does not accept defeat is not a competitor.''

"We fought hard in all five finals and I can say that what helped Savio win the title was the presence of center, Thabeet, that is, he was the biggest obstacle for us but, without him, we would have finished them sooner and we would not reach five games," the baller pointed out.

"You know Thabeet is a very talented and experienced player and his shape gave us a lot of trouble playing against him.''

"We are thankful after missing out on the RBA title, we won the NBL title in a very difficult tournament as even in all the matches we knuckled to victory against our opponents and we did not win by more than 10 points,'' Augustino noted.

As is the daily slogan that sports are a source of employment Augustino was fortunate to fulfil that slogan, as basketball gave him employment in the army.

He started playing the game in 2001 at Nyamalango Primary School in Mwanza and excelled in the national inter-primary schools' games (UMITASHUMTA) and impressed the management of Lord Barden Secondary School in Bagamoyo owned by retired Colonel, Iddi Kipingu.

Lord Barden Secondary School, which specializes in talent development, offered Agustino a scholarship to study from Form One to Form Four.

“While studying at Lord Barden, I played basketball for Savio Basketball Club and when I finished school I joined JKT side and continued to play there from 2014 to 2016.''

"In 2017 I went to a military course and when I returned in 2018 I joined ABC and I was employed to this day.''

The basketballer claims he loved basketball due to the influence of his brother, Frank Agustino, who was a talented basketballer.

Despite being a role model for young players who are watching him, the basketball player revealed he has a player who impresses him.

Agustino pointed out his teammate, Alinani Andrew, is the basketballer who impresses him the most.

"Andrew is a very talented player and he is doing well and he does great things, I am happy to play with him on our club and if he continues to play with that quality he will scale great heights.''

"On the women's side, there is a Vijana Queens player, Noela, she is a player who showcases stellar showing that makes a mockery of her physique, she makes basketball look a very easy game, I always like to watch her play," Augustino noted.