History has been made in Tanzania with the successful hosting of the Total U17 Africa Cup of Nations 2019, the first ever time Tanzania has staged a continental tournament.
From 14-28 April 2019, the lens of the continent and the rest of the world as the twinkle twinkle stars cut their teeth to global fame. In the end, Cameroon emerged victors, beating Guinea 5-3 on penalties in a rain-soaked final at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam as the curtains folded up.
Being the first time such a gathering was being hosted in the land of highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjoro, the Local Organising Committee (LOC) forced their critics to eat humble pie with memories that will forever last in the minds of all.
The tournament not only had impact on the seven visiting teams and other stakeholders, but also the host had a lot to cheer.
"It was a good tournament for us. It doesn't matter what happened on the pitch but out here it has left a mark and memories that will live forever," said Dar es Salaam resident, Daniel Mwakasungula, despite the failure of the host team Serengeti Boys to go pass the group stage.
"Almost every football fan in Africa has come to realize that there is a country called Tanzania, which has passionate football fans. This will be a turning point to our economy too," added Mwakasungula .
Iddi Ramadhani, one of the drivers of the visiting delegation, also recalls the tournament gave him the opportunity to learn different cultures and knowledge on football.
"I am happy because I was earning my source of living from the tournament. And so were my other colleague drivers. It was an amazing two weeks," he poured out.
Kumaran Prabhakar is the General Manager of White Sand Hotel, which hosted members of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC). He could not hide his joy for the revenue boost to his business.
"It was a great moments for us. We are happy that we got something out of the tournament. We urge our country to bid the hosting rights of other big African tournaments as it will uplift our economy," he told CAFOnline.com.
At the heart of the tournament is the media, and a number of them both local and international have lighted up the tournament with their unlimited coverage. Local journalist Charles Abel believes the impact of the tournament outside the pitch has been revealing.
"Hosting this tournament has served a major lesson. We have learnt new things. I met with journalist from other countries including out of Africa, and it improved my network for my job," said Abel, who was attended almost every game at the National Stadium in the capital.
Chamazi Stadium was the other venue used for the tournament. Owned by domestic side, Azam Football Club, it hosted the Group B matches which involved teams such as Cameroon, Guinea, Morocco and Senegal. Coordinator of the club, Philip Alando, tells CAFOnline.com that the tournament compelled to rehabilitate some facilities at the stadium to meet the expected standards.
"We did a lot to put get our stadium to the standard of the tournament. There are things that could not be changed right away but we had to change them to abide with the required standards. For us this is one of the things that will live with our memory.
"There are big number of visitors too that came to Azam FC and learned a lot from us. The referees of the tournament were training with our youth teams and it was amazing," Alando remarked.
The excitement is not only on the streets, also at the Government level, having invested a lot towards making it a success.
"This is not just the tournament for our football team, it is a big boost to our country in all aspects," said Tanzania Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa during the opening ceremony.
On sidelines of the tournament, LOC organized a trip to Zanzibar Island, one of the foremost touristic attractions in Tanzania to the visiting delegation. The delegation visited many historical sites on the island as they took time off their busy schedule to unwind.
With the tournament over, the words on the lips of all is "Asante Sana Tanzania", meaning "Thank You Tanzania".