Volleyball fever is mounting high among sports fans ahead of this year’s Nyerere International Championship, which starts today at the National Indoor Stadium.
Teams from six countries, including Zambia and Mozambique, are already in the country for the eagerly awaited tournament.
Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and hosts Tanzania will also field strong sides in the four-day event, according to the Tanzania Amateur Volleyball Association (Tava) secretary general, Alfred Selengia.
“We have organised the tournament in honour of the Father of the nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, who was an ardent fan of volleyball,” Selengia told The Citizen yesterday.
Nyerere, who led the country’s drive for independence from Britain in 1961, died on October 14, 1999 at St Thomas’ Hospital in London of complications stemming from leukemia. He was 77.
Nyerere, who was affectionately known as ‘Mwalimu’, has been long revered as one of Africa’s greatest statesmen. He served as Tanzania’s first president from 1961 to 1985.
A strong opponent of colonialism and apartheid, Nyerere stood out as an African leader who ignored the trappings of power.
The Tava official named the teams lined up for the tournament as Mombasa Prisons from Kenya, Rwanda’s APR, Nampula of Mozambique, Nkwazi from Zambia and Uganda’s Kampala Amateur Volleyball Club (KAVC).
According to Selengia, more than 10 local teams from Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar will compete in the championship.
The teams include the country’s volleyball giants Jeshi Stars, Magereza and JKT. Others are Makongo and Mjimwema.
Also on the list are Kilimanjaro Stars (Moshi), Flowers and Pentagon (Arusha), Kigoma Club, Shinyanga Club, Police and Chui both of Dar es Salaam; and Zanzibar’s Nyuki.
The annual championship will see teams battling it out for top honours in the men’s and women’s categories.
“Director of Sports in the ministry of Information, Culture and Sports, Yusuph Singo will grace the opening ceremony at the National Indoor Stadium at 9am,” the Tava official said.
He asked sports enthusiasts in Dar es Salaam to turn up at the venue in large numbers to cheer local teams throughout the championship.
The organisers have set aside various awards for winners in both men’s and women’s categories.
Winners will take home Sh1 million and a trophy, while the second-placed will get Sh500, 000 and a trophy while the third placed will be awarded lesser trophies.
There will also be prizes for the best setter, best blocker, best attacker, best saver and the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).
“Our aim is to promote the game and improve the standard of each player in the country. We want to see the country is attained the highest standard and compete in the international competitions,” he said.
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