19 June 2012

Tanzania: Kikwete Longs for Good Old Days in Athletics

PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete on Monday met with the National Sports Council (NSC) and Athletics Tanzania officials at State House in Dar es Salaam and challenged them to strive on reviving athletics in the country.

President Kikwete told the NSC and AT leaders that the government was prepared to offer them any kind of support with the intention of invigorating the sport but reminded them of their responsibility to push the sport forward.

"Athletics like other sports needs massive effort from those tasked with the development of the sport. The government can only offer its support, but the main responsibility rests with you," the president said.

He implored the AT leaders to come out with grassroots development programmes from where they can discover young talents and begin to build them up. He also urged the athletics officials to be more creative and work closely with other athletics stakeholders in their efforts to revive the sport.

Tanzania used to enjoy huge success in athletics in the 1970s and 1980s but during the past few decades, the standards of athletics have been falling steadily and the sport now looks on its deathbed. The head of state reaffirmed his commitment towards supporting the development of the sports sector in the country, saying he would continue to offer sports associations with technical support.

The meeting was attended by among others, the Minister for Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, Dr Fenella Mukangara and Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Sethi Kamuhanda. Also in attendance were NSC chairman, Dioniz Malinzi, Secretary General of the Tanzania Olympics Committee, Filbert Bayi and AT Secretary, Suleiman Nyambui.

President Kikwete, who is renowned for his enthusiasm in sports, has not only demonstrated interest but has also actively engaged in ensuring that the sports sector receives the attention it deserves.

The president is credited for promoting football in Tanzania. In 2007, he helped hire Coach Marcio Maximo from Brazil who laid the foundation for football development in the country.

Through President Kikwete's drive, the government hired two coaches for athletics and boxing and a foreign coach for the national netball team who is set to arrive in the country. He also provided recording artists with a mastering studio.

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