An initiative to bring cricket back to Zanzibar after 30 years has come to fruition this month.
Tanzania Cricket Association (TCA) CEO Zully Rahmutuallah has spearheaded a project that will now see Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous part of the country, deploy three development coaches from January 2012.
After focusing on political matters over the last three decades, the government of Zanzibar has now decided to place greater emphasis on education and sport, with the return of cricket one of the main initial thrusts within that process.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) and African Cricket Association (ACA) have donated 50 cricket sets to assist with the development of the game within schools and clubs.
A series of coaching, umpiring and administration courses have been set up ahead of the establishment of domestic leagues at junior and senior levels.
The return of organised cricket to Zanzibar is a hugely significant moment for the game in Tanzania as it was there that the country’s first official fixture took place in 1890. Introduced by British settlers, the earliest recorded matches saw them take on the British Navy.
Dar es Salaam then became the main hub for cricket in the country and now has four grounds.
Cricket in Tanzania has been played largely in the capital city in more recent times, along with more urban areas, so the game will benefit greatly through the potential further growth of its talent pool.
Despite the lack of competitive action, cricket has remained a popular game on the streets and parks of Zanzibar and they also put up a gallant showing against a Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) touring side during a match played at Amaan Football Stadium in 2007.
With this new structure for cricket in the area being formulated, the hope will be that Zanzibar can start producing players for the national set-up.
Tanzania’s senior men’s team will participate in the World Cricket League Division 4 tournament in 2012 alongside Denmark, USA and Nepal.
Meanwhile, the women’s side will play in T20 qualifiers while the Under-19 male and female sides will compete in regional qualifying competitions.
Tanzania will host the Africa Under-19 Girls tournament and an Under-17 Regional Tournament - East (35-overs-per-side) in what promises to be an exciting year.
There will also be domestic leagues for schools, junior and senior teams, some matches of which will now take place in Zanzibar.
The return of cricket to Zanzibar is set to reinvigorate the game in the whole of Tanzania, with the Sports Ministry and Commission working alongside the ICC Regional Office in Africa and the TCA for the good of the game in the country as a whole.