MORE indigenous players are getting into local rugby but it's not time to relax as yet, officials said. According to the leaders of the Dar Leopards team, there is still need to get more serious about the game for it to continue growing in popularity.
The New Zealand-born Captain, Simon Mayers, a Mining Engineer, who has been playing rugby from when he was eight years of age, told the 'Daily News' on Wednesday evening he would like to see more clubs in the country. That is why, he maintained, the league would be more active.
The current situation of only having three active clubs in the country: Arusha Rhinos, a team in Dodoma and the Dar Leopards, for him is not satisfactory. Such a situation, Mayers said contributed to failure here not being an active local league last year.
His Vice-captain, George Mtefu, a banker, who likes keeping fit by playing rugby, supported this opinion. They, together with other team members had just finished a training session at the International School of Tanganyika rugby grounds on the Masaki peninsula.
"People are getting more into rugby but I think we need to create a wider awareness of the game. Most of the guys fear it, as being tough and not good. Yet I maintain, Rugby is the best game if you really know how to play it. We have good coaches and sometimes even get volunteers, like last year.
We had a coach from the UK, who was going down to South Africa from Egypt and passed through here to give us some training. He was able to passon some of his skills to us," Mtefu added. As a club, he sees the Dar Leopards have a bright future ahead of them.
They had recently returned from Iringa Region, where they had participated in a touch rugby tournament, which had been organised by two private individuals there. Last year they had hosted the British Navy, with whom they had three to four troupes and had a game with each one of them.
Mtefu, who also plays rugby for the University of Dar es Salaam also said that the league is still an except that they had some tight programme last year so didn't have it, as such and they didn't participate in most of the tournaments. "We had invitation to the Bambooree, which we never attended and another for the Safari Service in Kenya and the CAR (Confederation of African Rugby) tournament, which is always held each year.
Last year we were not lucky to attend because we had some guys, who were away and fitness was not on our side," Mtefu maintains. His hopes are very high for this year, which he says is going good. They are looking forward to something serious and are determined to make sure their team participates in every tournament, which they are supposed to.
They also intend having some tournaments here in Dar es Salaam and are planning to invite teams from outside of the city, such as the Arusha Rhinos and others from Mombasa, Kenya, to bring more action into the local game.