THE U-13 girls' team from Tandahimba, Mtwara Region competed with success at the just concluded Hensinki Cup soccer tournament in Finland, finishing in the last eight at the 37th edition of the event.
The girls showed great skills on the football pitch, winning four matches and managed one draw on their way to the quarterfinals. Before Helsinki Cup they participated in the East African Cup held in Moshi during the last week of June.
In Moshi, the Malaika girls experienced how to play at a big international football event, which was essential for their development as young women and players. In a homecoming brief ceremony organized by the Finland Embassy in Tanzania yesterday, the Finish Ambassador to Tanzania, Sinikka Antila said the focus is on developing youths from the grassroots.
"Grassroots is where our emphasis is, as we aim to promote both physical education and academic excellence," she said. Director of Mtwara based Sports Development Aid (SDA), Adolf Kanda, whose organization has been working together with the Finnish sports NGO LiiKe said the girls' team shocked many.
"The performance and results in Finland shocked many, the girls really showed character and we've been impressed so much by this group... they will all be awarded scholarship to attend Secondary School Education," he said. The traditional FC Vito team has participated in Helsinki Cup since 2000.
During that period, two bronze medals (year 2000 boys, 2006 boys) from one of the biggest youth football tournaments in Europe have been taken back home. The aim of Vito Malaika is to show their football skills with good manners and fair play.
This year more than 800 teams from 15 countries took part in the Helsinki Cup. The aims of taking Tanzanian teams to Finland are to strengthen the social development of girls, and increase international cooperation between Tanzania and Finland.
School sport has become very important part of children's lives in Mtwara. The global cooperation is also essential for the development of academic performance of the girls and all pupils in the primary schools.
LiiKe together with SDA in close cooperation with Tanzanian authorities have been reintroducing schools sports in primary schools in three regions, Mtwara, Lindi and Singida. The objective has been to increase school attendance and number of students who finish their primary education.
Up to now LiiKe has invested more than 1m USD in the Education through Sports in Tanzania. In addition LiiKe has invested over 500 000 USD in physical education development in 12 Teachers' Colleges. LiiKe and SDA have been distributing about 7000 balls annually and hundreds of sports equipment.
These organisations are regularly running sports seminars for primary and secondary school teachers in order to strengthen teaching of physical education and organising of competitions and tournaments in the regions. The aim of LiiKe and SDA aim is to reduce the drop outs in primary schools and to improve the academic performance of the pupils. The organisations use sports as a tool for development.