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Improved attendance commendable but we must do more

Moorosi Tsiane

IT HAS indeed been a good footballing season so far and the race for the coveted Econet Premier League title is heating up with Bantu looking relentless and unlikely to let either LCS or Matlama have it easy.

Not only is the competition high on the field, but the atmosphere at the stadiums lately has also been wonderful as we have seen supporters coming out in great numbers to rally behind their teams.

For a long time, there has always been an outcry over lack of support for local football with local lovers of the game opting to watch foreign leagues on television in the comfort of their homes but I think that seems to be slowly changing if the attendances this season are anything to go by.

Lately, the grounds have been packed to the rafters for league matches, something which has not been happening for a long time in ordinary matches such as that of Linare against Lioli.

In the last four seasons, the only fixture which drew impressive crowds has been the Bantu vs Lioli tie but that has changed as we witnessed a different atmosphere in Maputsoe last weekend where Linare hosted Lioli while minors Galaxy played Sefotha-fotha.

It is a known fact that local sports suffer from lack of resources but now that the teams are collecting more significant figures in gate-takings, they will come in handy.

I think this also calls for other teams, especially those known as districts teams like Liphakoe and Linare, to up their game and also start attracting many supporters as their support bases have dwindled over the years due to poor performances.

When a team has a big support base and good administrations, it becomes easier to attract sponsorship, which is one area where I think Linare, Matlama and Lioli need to improve.

I also believe this shows positive signs of the growth of football in the country and the players also need to start taking football seriously.

In the past some soccer lovers have been reluctant to go to the grounds due to bad behaviour of players who tend to abuse alcohol and drugs publicly.

I know it is still the case even today that lot of local football players abuse alcohol and this behaviour needs to change and players need to respect their craft and the supporters.

It really wouldn’t make sense for a support to spend their hard-earned money on buying match tickets to watch someone whom they always see bingeing in clubs.

I know athletes also are human beings and deserve to have a social life but that has to be done in a more responsible manner.

But once again it doesn’t end with the players, the team administrators also need to start respecting the supporters and know that it through the supporters that their teams can survive and make income that can help them run their clubs.

Teams are brands but surprisingly, their respective managements never treat them as such.

We recently heard about the outrage over gate-takings from the Matlama versus Bantu and Liphakoe vs Kick4Life games where it was rumoured that money was lost. I would not be surprised if it were true because it will not be the first time where such claims are made and Matlama is involved.

This should never happen because they tarnish the team’s name and also make it difficult for the corporate world to partner such teams.

I think teams need to put people with good reputation at the gates during their matches regardless of whether or not tickets for that match were sold using the electronic Computicket platform.

At one point I was so ashamed attending a match between Swallows and Kick4Life at Ratjomose Ground to find the home team’s marshals at the gate collecting money while imbibing alcohol. That is the greatest degree of disrespect for supporters who part with their money to watch the teams play.

There could be something that we have finally done right to attract more spectators at the football matches but we must do more and ensure that we don’t chase them away with players’ and team officials’ conduct.

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