After being accorded the honors by having a street in Tanzania named after him in an occasion where he appeared as the chief guest during the final of Ndondo Cup between FC Kauzu and Faru Jeuri in Ubungo Municipal Council, harambee stars captain and Tottenham Hotspurs defensive midfielder Victor ‘Big Vic’ Wanyama joins an illustrious class of elite footballers in the history of the game to get acknowledged in foreign lands.
“I am happy for this gesture happening outside my country. It feels great to be honored outside your country. This does not happen easily. I am now confident that several people are following me and are very happy with what I do. I thank you the people of Tanzania for this fete.” said the 6ft 2inch 25 year old Kenyan international while thanking the people of Ubungo for the good gesture.
With soccer being the most popular sport in the world, soccer stars are often world superstars or national stars, and I know it may not be unusual to find streets or any other facilities, instruments or even products named after them. The most common things for footballers to have named after them are stadiums, streets or roads, skills and even techniques. This type of recognition is always intended to honor those players who have made great contributions to the sport or local area, hence is as a way of preserving their legacy.
One may ask, what type of achievements may guarantee a football star of being remembered by being having a facility bear his/her name? Players who have achieved great things like winning the World Cup, Champions League, Ballon d’Or, African Cups of Nations, the EUROs, among others often leave a legacy for both club and country. Others are remembered for their vast influence on humanitarian grounds, peace ambassadors and opinion shapers for their nations.
When the Tanzanian authorities decided to honor Wanyama by having a street named after him, many football fans across the nation and globe reacted with mixed feelings. Those who support it states that it’s a positive gesture and a golden way of appreciating talent and motivating local based footballers to strive towards their goals of being superstars and great players in the years to come.
Those on the contrary however argue that it’s a sign of over-rating the Kenyan captain and mocking the African legacy of past greats who were never recognized. Methinks like the latter group. Of what importance has the Spurs midfielder have on the common game to his country? How has he influenced or inspired the nation to international stage or recognition? If we compare the manner of which he has been recognized with former and current stars influence on the game and general contribution to warrant such an honor then, we’ll be mistaken to the point of lowering the meaning of the word “legacy”.
Alongside Nigerian international Emmanuel Emenike who has a street named after him in the Chevy View Estate, in Leki, Lagos, Wanyama can now boasts as being the first ever, if not Kenyan, East Afrcan football player to have a street named after him and unlike Emenike, the street named after him in another country. However, whereas Emenike spent in excess of $2.5 million on property in the local area which he started building up in his early 20s (aged 30); Wanyama’s legacy to guarantee such an honor is questionable.
To the football fanatics, all I can say is that such an honor is an insult to the game as it belittles our African spirit, and fails to acknowledge the true influencers of the game. It’s anti-sportsmanship and portrays a negative faith towards the legacy of the continent’s greats. Only time will mastermind the importance of the honor. Pundits will have to give their opinions on the recognition. The honor is surely above the midfielder.
What’s your opinion?