ONCE again Tanzania is preparing for the Zone V basketball tournament, which the country will host from January 21 to 27. It is a naked fact that despite the existing potential and available talents for the sport to grow in Tanzania, things are quite the opposite.
The game is experiencing drastic drop of standards. The country's national basketball team is very weak. In fact, the national team has qualified for the FIBA African Championship, just once in the past 50 years.
A big shame for the country! And as the country set to host Zone V tournament, which will bring together at least 12 nations, the hosts seem to be in a deep slumber as far as the teams' preparation is concerned.
Lack of funds has become a usual outcry as the Tanzania Basketball Federation (TBF) is failing to attract sponsors to support its programmes and teams. They have even failed to bring in US coaches as planned. As if that is not enough, our national teams have failed to enter residential camps as planned, which only suggest that the country is preparing 'teams to whip.' Basketball is a competitive sport.
It is also an enjoyable one. The game can as well transform the lives of players, like professional soccer does. For them, the sport can be a permanent source of employment. However, to achieve this objective there should be visionary and committed leadership, without which it is doomed to failure.
It is evident that poor leadership has been a serious setback to the game's growth. Indeed, the TBF has failed to show commitment to strategically working with the regional basketball associations to build a solid foundation for the game in every region.
TBF leadership should strive to plan and implement programmes and provide advisory services for various basketball associations across the country for the game to grow. The challenge for the TBF is to change its approach -- from entirely depending on the government and instead, look for corporate sponsorship to help finance its programmes, if there are any, anyway.
TBF leadership should also come up with a clear long-term school development programme that would help to develop young players into good and responsible national team stars. If this is done, Tanzania will produce top quality players.