Sports for Youth: Tanzania’s Economic Potential against Unemployment

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Unemployment is one of the pressing challenges of the 21st century facing the youths globally. Tanzania is no exception, with a population of over 18.28 million children ed 15 – 24 and over 12.6 kids labor force available without work and seeking employment, according to the 2021/2021 Integrated Labour Force Survey – Analytical Report from the Tanzania National Bureau of Statistics. Governments and stakeholders around the globe are finding and implementing various measures to tackle this challenge of unemployment for youths.

In Tanzania and most African countries, Sports have primarily been neglected as a viable option for job and opportunity creation for youths. In Europe, the Far East, and America, Sports is a multi-billion industry offering jobs and employment to millions of young people and generating billions of dollars from dollars-related economic activities ranging from TV rights, prize money, sponsorship deals, and entrance fees.

Young people are professional swimmers, boxers, footballers, archers, golfers, athletes, and basketball rs earning millions yearly. Tanzania can also utilize this industry and create economic opportunities for economic growth and tax base and employment for young people.

With 34 percent of the general population as of 2022 census being youths, Sports has enormous potential for creation of opportunities to youths with the possibility of developing these youths to become professional athletes, footballers, boxers, basketballers as well as in aerobics.

This is not only in line with the International Physical Education and Sports Charter of 1978, the National Youth Employment Action, the National Development Policy of 1997, and the Promotion Policy but also an accurate tool for fundamental creation, reducing and fighting drug addiction, crimes, and deviance as well as contributing to economic growth from sports-related economic activities.

The Sports and Culture Ministry, National, Regional and District  Sports Councils, Sports Federations, National Olympic Committee, other ministries, JKT, and private sectors must all team up to help develop this sector to fight against unemployment for the welfare of Tanzanian youths and the country.

The following areas are crucial to help Sports in Tanzania become one of the significant sources of wealth creation, tax base and livelihood to young people and drive economic growth and revenue generation as the country strives towards middle-income status by 2025.

Infrastructure Development

There are initiatives to develop sports infrastructures like the tenders to build new sports arenas in Dodoma and Dar es Salaam, the investment of Black Rhino facility in Karatu, and Fountain Gate Academy in Dodoma,  but still modern infrastructures that meet intensive and safe standards that can also be training facilities that are suitable for Tanzanian youths to train and compete as well as attract local and international sporting events can be built and incorporated in already available arenas.

Fortunately, Tanzania is endowed with stadiums, including Mkapa National Stadium, Uhuru, Samora, Kaitaba, Kambarage, Kirumba, Lake Tanganyika, Mandela, Majaliwa, Mkwakwani, Amani, Jamhuri, Ali Hasani Mwinyi, Karume Nangwanda Samora and Ihefu to mention a few.

These stadiums are potential sporting arenas that can be refurbished and renovated with new infrastructures which contain indoor facilities that can accommodate various sports facilities from swimming pools, basketball, baseball, and marathon fields making them suitable training facilities where professional instructors and trainers can train, coach and develop these raw talented young people in different sports and help them become professionals.

Modernization of these arenas will not only provide training facilities for young people. Still, it will attract sporting events locally, regionally and internationally, thus creating employment opportunities for young people and generating revenues from sports-related economic activities ranging from sponsorship deals, entrance fees and TV rights.

International Charter of Physical Education and Sports of 1978, Tanzania Sports Development Policies and Plan as well as Investment Promotion Policy all advocate for facilities that meet intensive and care standards in overall education system where young people can train and nurture their talents so as sports is used as a mechanism of wealth creation, employment and revenue generation to young people.

Skill Development and Entrepreneurship

Workshops and mentorship opportunities to develop technical and non-technical skills related to sports, such as sports management, to create a pool of skilled professionals with appropriate qualifications and training who can contribute to the sports industry and drive economic growth is of great importance if we are to make sports a wealth creation sector in our country.

There are colleges and universities like Malya, University of Dar es Salaam and Butimba TTC that produce skilled professionals, but if we are to have qualified professionals en mass that contribute to the sports industry and drive economic growth, workshops and mentorships to local coaches and trainers with and without formal education or training is a must to create a large pool of professional trainers and instructors who will be readily available to all corners of the country to help identify, train, nurture and develop young and middle-aged potential athletes in school and out-of schools settings and help them become professionals who can earn their living from different sports.

Sports Development Programmes

The government and its various agencies under different ministries and authorities, in collaboration with multiple stakeholders, must develop programs to identify, train and coach youths in schools and out-of-school settings across the whole country, nurture and develop these young and middle-aged athletes’ potential and create pathways for these athletes to flourish and become professionals.

From boxing, football, athletics, basketball, swimming, aerobics and other sports. By doing so, many youths will have livelihoods and become taxpayers, contribute to the national economy, and reduce unemployment, crimes, drugs and deviance. More needs to be done by all stakeholders to develop such programs.

Promotion and Marketing

Media coverage, sponsorship opportunities and visibility to attract investments are also crucial to developing the sports industry. In collaboration with various stakeholders, the government must promote and sponsor regional and national sporting events like marathons, boxing tournaments, football tournaments like the Ndondo Cup, and swimming and aerobics tournaments throughout the year.

With significant sponsorship and investment where talented young people from across Tanzania compete regularly in suitable facilities in schools and out-of-school settings in different sporting tournaments, many youths will start earning their livelihoods from sports. This is doable if all stakeholders team up and develop this sector. Through corporate social responsibility programs, public and private institutions and entities should allocate sufficient funds to sponsor these sporting events.

This way, young people will strive to become professionals to earn their living. Private and public entities are making notable investments. In boxing, for example, Azam media, NBC, NMB, and betting firms are doing a commendable job in promoting boxing and football. Other entities must follow suit in the serious promotion and investment in sports in Tanzania. This investment is a good investment, and in due course, Tanzania will start reaping fruits just like how European, Far East and Americas countries are reaping.

Tourism and Sports

Leveraging the potential of sports tourism through hosting regional and international sporting events like marathons, swimming contests, basketball and football tournaments, and aerobic competitions to attract visitors will boost the local economy and generate employment opportunities in hospitality, transportation and tourism-related services.

The government and other stakeholders must intentionally do more to prepare more sporting events to leverage sports potential to create opportunities for Tanzanian youths. Sporting events like Kili Marathon and Ndondo Cup are famous for attracting many visitors, generating countless economic opportunities for locals and children. More must be done across Tanzania to reap such benefits for more youths.

Modern arenas can attract international sporting events just like Mkapa National stadium and Black Rhino academy have been hosting international marches for clubs and countries from across the sub Saharan Africa and creating opportunities for youths and generating revenues. This should be the trend to attract more investors in this industry thus creating more opportunities.

Policies, regulations, and legal assurances to promote and protect athletes

Athletes must have access to civil contracts and be provided with social security schemes, health insurance, honorable payments, and bonuses. The government must stress and regulate closely the provision of these crucial needs to the professionals to be groomed by instructors. Policies that guide sports must state clearly the benefits that these to be professionals are entitled and regulating authorities must enforce these entitlements thoroughly to ensure these athletes earn what they deserve.

There are very appealing sports and culture policies and goals set in the National Youth Employment Action Plan, National Sports Development Programmes as well as sports council article number 12 of 1967 which stipulate and advocate serious development of sports and culture, unfortunately there has been trifling investment in this sector over the years.

The time has come when all stakeholders must intentionally finance this sector on a severe note so that in a few years, we start seeing results. European, Asian and Americas countries have been reaping the fruits of investing in sports over the years. Tanzania can reap such fruits if serious investment is undertaken in this sector. Sports contribute to maintaining and improving health, providing leisure time, and enriching social relations. As we have seen, it is essential not only to sports but to life in society and opportunity creation for youths to avoid unemployment issues.

It is paramount that the government and other stakeholders take immediate initiatives to implement such measures against unemployment and unlock sports potential and drive economic growth and opportunity for Tanzanian youths, thus reaping multiple benefits as the country strives to attain middle-income status by 2025.

By substantially investing in sports, full and well-balanced development of young people and unique opportunities will be made available. This will significantly reduce unemployment, fight crime, drugs, and deviance and improve their health for the welfare of our country.

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hold a bachelor's degree in Public Relations and Marketing from St. Augustine University of Tanzania. I am currently working as a Hub Data Officer for Benjamin Mkapa Foundation at Usangi District hospital. I am an experienced Marketing and Sales professional where I have worked in this field for over 5 years. I have now worked in a PEPFAR HIV funded programme for over 3 years where I have been receiving various training and facilitation on the basics of comprehensive HIV care. I am passionate about traveling and creative writing and I am determined to learn more about writing to express my ideas that will inspire positive and constructive discussion in Tanzania for the welfare of the Tanzanian society.

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