DAR-ES-SALAAM, Tanzania- The upcoming visit of English Premier League (EPL) heavyweights Everton FC to Tanzania will mark a historic milestone for the country.
This is according to SportPesa Tanzania CEO, Pavel Slavkov who added the tour is the first of a string of initiatives with international partners of the gaming firm aimed at sparking the growth of the country’s football and promote its reputation as a destination of famous teams.
The nine-time English champions will play East Africa giants Gor Mahia FC from Kenya on July 13 at the National Stadium in Dar-es-Salaam as part of their pre-season tour.
Gor won the inaugural 2017 SportPesa Super Cup that was successfully hosted in Tanzania from June 5 to 11 to earn the right to play Everton who will be the first-ever EPL team to visit and play an official pre-season game in East Africa.
It will be a significant statement of intent for SportPesa Tanzania with the Toffees visit coming barely two months after the company launched their operations in the country on May 10.
In an interview with SportPesa News on Thursday, Slavkov underlined the significance of the visit while describing how it will act as a launchpad to their sports development agenda in Tanzania.
SPN: What does Everton visit in Tanzania mean to you as a CEO?
PS: I’m very happy because it is the first time for the top English club to visit East Africa. It took us a lot of time to prepare for it. So, there is a lot to look forward to.
Personally, I wished a Tanzanian team would play Everton but it was not to be but that does not limit the excitement. I can’t wait to welcome them here since this games means a lot to Tanzania.
SPN: What would you tell local critics against the idea of Everton playing a Kenyan team in Tanzania?
PS: We provided an equal chance for every team to win the SportPesa Super Cup so they could play Everton and at the end of the day, Gor Mahia who won.
We can’t change tournament rules, terms and conditions at this particular juncture because everyone was informed from the start.
Our vision is for the SportPesa Super Cup to become one of the biggest tournament in the region and to achieve that, we must follow the rules and regulations to the letter.
At the end of the day, it does not a matter of who is playing who. We could have arranged for this match to take place in Kenya but we wanted Everton to play here because we knew their visit will bring great opportunities to our country.
SPN: How will Tanzanian football benefit from the Everton visit?
PS: Everton FC visit to Tanzania will benefit the country in many ways including offering invaluable capacity building to local football stakeholders from the top to the grassroots.
For example; the Everton CEO will interact with his fellow CEOs from leading Tanzanian clubs to share his knowledge on the best business practices that have made them famous worldwide.
Everton commercial managers will also be here to interact with their colleagues from the Vodacom Premier League (VPL) clubs on how best to acquire and maintain lucrative sponsorships and other marketing initiatives.
For me, the most inspiring moment will be when Everton first team players get the chance to meet with players from youth academies in Tanzania to motivate them on what it takes to become international professionals.
We have also invited Tanzanian coaches, players, club officials, sports journalists and many other stakeholders to benefit from the Everton visit.
SPN: What is in store for the Tanzanian public?
PS: First, Tanzanians should expect a cracking game of football since both teams are decorated in their history and possess skillful players.
It is a match that will be beamed to an international audience, make global headlines and promote Tanzania as a destination of choice for top football teams.
SPN: Do you think Gor Mahia stand a chance against Everton?
PS: The match will be very intriguing but Gor Mahia have a chance since we have to appreciate the fact that the gap between Europe and Africa has narrowed by the day.
Whatever the result, I believe both teams will learn from each other.
SPN: What is your final word to Tanzanians on this milestone?
I would like to call on passionate football supporters across Tanzania to fill the National Stadium and produce a wonderful atmosphere for everyone to remember.
Again, this is a biggest football event in East African in a generation and the whole world will be watching. Let us all come and make a history together.