Hockey in Tanzania has developed incredibly fast in recent years, both at international and grassroots level. FIH looks at how the African nation has progressed in the sport...
At the 2015 Africa Hockey Championships, Tanzania men’s and women’s hockey teams entered the competition after undergoing some of the most intensive training the national players have experienced.
Since 2012, the African nation has really embraced the sport, largely due to the drive and determination of a small band of coaches and staff. Italian Valentina Quaranta is the driving force behind hockey in Tanzania.
The player and coach came to the country while working for the NGO Cooperazione Paesi Emergenti (COPE), but realised that her skills and knowledge of hockey could be used to great effect for developing both sport and, through hockey, the lives of people in Tanzania.
Four years on and hockey in Tanzania is flying. While the men’s team registered only one win – against Botswana – at the African Hockey Championships last year and the women lost all of their matches, as Quaranta says: “We learned a lot and some improvements have already been made.”
Many of the challenges faced by the teams were logistical – finding funding for training, transport and accommodation were among these challenges.
Now the Tanzania Hockey Association is looking very much to the future as it prepares to send a team to the Junior African Cup for Nations, which will be played in Namibia in March this year. This is the first time Tanzania has fielded an under-21 side.
“Nowadays in Tanzania, there are new young players who didn’t know there was a sport called hockey until two years ago,” said Quaranta.
“Participation in this tournament will be a big step forward in the development of hockey among young people in Tanzania, it means the sport is spreading among the youth in this country."
It is not just at elite level that hockey is spreading in Tanzania. Through an initiative between Dutch club Rijswik and the Twende Hockey Club in Tanzania, the Twende Foundation has been created.
This foundation aims to spread playing and coaching knowledge across the country and part of the programme includes cultural exchanges between the Netherlands and Tanzania.
Quaranta explains: “Twende’s focus is to support the development of hockey in schools through training teachers and players and collecting hockey equipment and coaching material from Europe. It will also help support the national teams with high level coaching and help the Tanzania Hockey Foundation find sponsors.”
Meanwhile, in another demonstration of just how far youth development has already come in Tanzania, the first Schools Hockey Tournament took place in November in the capital city Dar Es Salaam.
More than 200 youngsters took part in the event, representing seven primary schools and five secondary schools. Running parallel to the tournament was a coaching course, run by the Twende Foundation and attended by 18 school teachers and 30 young players. It’s aim was to give the potential coaches the basic tools necessary to coach school children and grassroots players in clubs.
Whilst recent international results may not have gone their way, hockey is developing fast in Tanzania. Thanks to the enthusiasm shown by a small group of coaches and staff, and the establishment of new partnerships, the nation has been inspired by the sport of hockey.
With growing participation levels this is a great example not only to other African countries but also other nations around the world who are looking to inspire and engage the next generation of hockey players.
Further information about the work that Valentina Quaranta is undertaking in the country can be found by clicking here.
To find out about more information about hockey in Tanzania, you can contact them by clicking here, or visit the Hockey Tanzania Facebook page by clicking here.
More information about the Twende Foundation can be found by clicking here.
Watch a video from Valentina's website below about the schools programme: