FIFA's 'Win in Africa with Africa' programme took a further step forward with the hosting of a first-ever management course for top level clubs from 12 to 17 November. A pilot course was launched in Tanzania with participation of the leaders of 13 of the country's 14 first division clubs, a timely intervention as the country prepares to launch full-time professionalism in their football.
Tanzania have enjoyed a heady last 12 months, coming to close to qualifying for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations Ghana 2008 only to fall at the final hurdle. It was the closest the national side, the Taifa Stars, have come to reaching the continental finals in more than two decades, giving a massive boost to the development of their football.
The country has also inaugurated a new national stadium in the capital Dar-es-Salaam this year, and will host the annual East and Central African Senior Challenge Cup in December.
Clubs on the course were represented either by their presidents and general secretaries, with an intense, six-day programme intended to help edge the east African country close to its goal of professionalism. Also present was the president of the Tanzania Football Federation, Leodegar Tenga, his general secretary, technical director and director of administrations.
"It was a real eye opener for all present," said Tenga. "I don't think their perception of how much is needed on the road to professionalism was there but the officials were all very energised to get on with the task."
The course dealt with various facets of management of top flight clubs, with a variety of topics presented by visiting instructors from Botswana, France, South Africa and Switzerland. Delegates sat intently taking notes and absorbing lectures on club statutes and structures, regulations for licensing, fans' club development, marketing, federation structures, planning, communication and event management.
Part of the programme in Tanzania was a visit to the two biggest clubs in the country, Simba and Young Africans. It was the first time the two arch-rivals had ever visited each other's headquarters. "It was historic, now our rivalry is restricted to the pitch only," said Young Africans chairman Imani Madega.
A work session was also held with the first division coaches to gain an understanding of the challenges they face and to hear suggestions for improvements, which were later analysed and discussed by the club leaders. Key to discussion was the establishment of a road map and a declaration afterwards, called the 'Bagamoyo Declaration'.
The course was held at Bagamoyo, a coastal town some 60km from the capital. In it, Tanzania's football leaders pledged that within six months they will create a regular chairman's forum under the leadership of the Tanzania Football Federation chairman, which will identify priorities for the improvement of club football in the country and from that create a strategic plan. Finally, it will address all other pertinent issues affecting the Tanzanian Premier League.
The 'Win in Africa with Africa' programme rolled out a similar course for coaches in Gabon in October and the Cape Verde Islands in November. Another pilot for club management is planned in Kenya in January. Already the initiative has installed almost 40 artificial pitches across Africa's 53 member associations with a dozen more to be finished by early 2008.
But besides the boost for footballing infrastructure in Africa, the 'Win in Africa with Africa' initiative also has an intensive programme of education on offer, including managers, coaches and referees. Training equipment for all first division teams is also to be provided over the ensuing years, as is IT support for football federators, providing software for player registration and the organisation of match fixtures.
For Tanzania, FIFA sent balls, football boots, cones, shin guards, training material and bibs, which will be distributed to the clubs at a special ceremony in December.