We Need A Mindset Change
South African football supporters need to change their mindset and they need to do it right now!
The manner in which most of our so-called football-loving supporters arrive so late at games has reached a seriously concerning level. Just a few weeks ago, on a ‘summer’ day by Cape Town weather’s standards, thousands of supporters trickled into the Cape Town Stadium way into the game. Some even missed the whole first half and this was not the first time. The two teams went for a pitch inspection and the venue looked completely different between then and the time they lined up just before the start of the game.
When the game started, thousands of supporters were still outside the stadium as if they didn’t know what time the game was scheduled to start. As if that was not enough, a video clip surfaced of supporters forcing their way into the stadium, putting their lives and others’ in danger, in panic as they could hear the supporters’ loud roars and cheering inside the stadium, as those already were inside enjoying a pulsating clash between the two teams. What is even more disturbing is the fact that some supporters arrive well on time at the match venue, spend time chitchatting outside the stadium and only think of getting inside about 10 minutes before the start of the game. This causes an unnecessary bottleneck and compromises the safety and security of everyone.
Not so long ago, a game between Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs was delayed because of late arrivals. While it is easy to apportion the blame on the security personnel, it is very important for the supporters to play their part in their own safety. We’ve had a number of unfortunate incidents happening at our stadiums so much that you don’t even feel comfortable taking your family to the stadium. This takes away from the beautiful game because there’s no game without the supporters. Our football is improving, teams are doing their best to deliver, but without the bums on the seats, there’s no football. We all need to hold hands and make sure that we are all seated even 30 minutes before the game. People don’t really seem to understand the negative effect of these delays. Fifteen minutes, for example, is a long time to deflate the psyche of the players because after warming up, the only thing left is for the teams to start the game. The delay forces the teams to spend more unplanned time in the dressing room and the players suffer. While delaying a game is the right thing to do, for security reasons, until everyone is seated, it is really bad for the game. When the players only get into the game later on, the same supporters don’t understand why the players are taking long to get the momentum.
We need to educate one another on the importance of going to the stadium to watch football rather than making it a concert or some music show. It is vitally important for the supporters to watch their team’s warm-up and how they will line up. Some of the supporters are coaches in our townships, while we also have active amateur football players in the stands. Don’t you think watching a professional team’s warm-up exercises would help your team? Don’t you think you can learn a thing or two from just watching the two teams warming up before their game? An informed supporter will not attack the technical team to make substitutions that aren’t there, as it was a case last season at Athlone Stadium where one supporter kept calling Mamelodi Sundowns assistant coach, Manqoba Mngqithi, out to bring Khama Billiat on. The joke was that Billiat wasn’t even in the 18-man squad on the night, but because the supporter arrived so late, he couldn’t even familiarise himself with his own team’s starting line-up as well as players who were sitting on the bench. On the night, Billiat was sitting on the stands watching the same game in which his then own supporter was asking for his substitution.
It is this level of unawareness that is destroying the image of the beautiful game. We are all supporters and have a very important role to play in the game. It is not enough to go to the stadium, but what are we contributing towards the growth of the game that we love so much? Let us stop putting our lives and of the lives of those we love at risk because we are not punctual.
On a side note, congratulations to coach Benni McCarthy and his troops for lifting the MTN8 trophy against SuperSport United on Saturday. They really showed up. Congratulations to the supporters who created an unbelievable atmosphere at Moses Mabhida Stadium. Yes, it wasn’t just KZN-based supporters who were there but, as long as Mabhida continues like this, there will be little to no argument to them hosting cup finals.