IMPRESSIVE performances of the Under- 17 National team, Serengeti Boys, have made them bigger than Serengeti plains, one of the Africa’s biggest animal sanctuaries.
In a few days to come we will be in Gabon where our envoys, Serengeti Boys, will be facing Mali in their opening campaign of African Youth Championships (AYC) for players aged below 17.
With their recent streak of gallant performances, the boys have won the hearts and minds of the people and institutions, creating a favourable environment for people to offer them financial assistance to surmount any football huddle in their path.
That friendly state has reassured the people, making it easy for the government to get donations from football lovers countrywide. Just recently, the government appealed to the people and various organisations to donate for the Serengeti Boys for their trip to Gabon.
Indeed, there is legitimacy in calling the young and gallant national soccer players triumphant. In a matter of three months they twice trounced the mighty Egyptians. On 2 April Serengeti Boys managed a dramatic draw with Ghana.
Until the end of the game in normal time, Serengeti Boys were trailing their opponents 2-0. But during the extra 10 minutes, they scored two goals to force a draw with Black Eagles.
Such a dramatic U-turn to keep defeat at bay is a novel development for the national squad, which explains why pundits of the game view them with admiration as hopeful participants at the forthcoming AFCON tournament which begins in Gabon on 14 May through to 28.
In their preparation for the Gabon games, the Boys played some tune-up games, including one against Burundi Under- 17 whom they thrashed 2-0 in the first encounter and 3-0 in the second. In all, Serengeti Boys played four friendlies to assess their international power and found that they were ready to meet any opponent.
But Serengeti Boys are in dire need for funds to enable them accomplish a noble mission for their state, their fellow nationals. The budget needed would allow the team to pitch a month-long camp abroad.
Mwakyembe announced in Dodoma yesterday that a plan was underway to facilitate the 23 players and eleven officials participate fully in the two-week championship that starts from May 21 through to June 4,” a report of a local newspapers says.
Mwakyembe’s announcement was made some months ago and the boys have played their part, leaving the rest to the nation as a means to ferry them to Gabon. The achievement of the sterling young athletes is too good to be taken lightly, and their so far excellent track of glorious performances has prompted the government to make a call to football lovers to extend a helping hand to ensure their participation at the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon becomes more hopeful.
The nation has travelled a long way to build Serengeti Boys and made it a squad to reckon with. The team has proved what a nation determined for success can do. Several institutions have made a donation.
Only the other day, as a response to the government’s appeal, Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation’s (TBC) Director General, Ayubu Rioba, presented to Minister Mwakyembe, a dummy cheque of 20m/- for Serengeti Boys’ participation at the U-17 Africa Youth Championship (AYC) finals in Gabon.
Tanzania Standard (Newspapers) Limited – publishers of this newspaper ‑ have posted announcement on their notice board calling for donations for the Boys. In fact donations for Serengeti Boys are pouring in from all corners of the country as a booster for victory in the AFCON cup.
But whether the Boys win or lose, then what? Will they live and rely on donations to play international matches? Surely, there must be a sure way for the Boys to generate revenue to play matches anywhere for the betterment of the country. Serengeti Boys were not born to live on handouts.
Meaning and importance of donations notwithstanding, they cannot be the only way to enable a national team engage in big and international games.. Minister Mwakyembe has called upon Tanzanians to rally behind the national youth soccer team, Serengeti Boys and produce positive results.