How to improve SA football

2012-06-07 12:10
Bafana Bafana (Gallo Images)
Let’s prevent breeding white elephants and ignite excitement in our SA football.

We must accept that the days of packed football stadiums in South Africa are long gone and we will never see them again, as long as we continue to do things the way we do.

I strongly believe that PSL is not doing enough to boost the support base of football. Every day we are laughed at, not only by Africa but by the whole world. We have built world class stadiums in our nine provinces and they are nothing but white elephants and it pains me that two years down the lane we and PSL has still not found the solution. There are numerous models we could incorporate in resolving this expensive problem but are we not even looking into them. I sometimes sit and wonder what kind of small- minded individuals run PSL. These people are making a mockery of this sport but still claim that they know it. There is a saying that those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach. There is a difference in knowing how to play football having played it your whole life and knowing how to run football as a business.

England and Spain are far smaller than South Africa but their football leagues are very exciting mainly because those two countries have an appreciation for the skills and knowledge held by the ordinary people. It is these people who are responsible for the development of their leagues to greater heights. Each city has its own football team and its own supporters. In South Africa we have Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates. The only team that comes close to copying what is done in Europe is the Bloemfontein Celtics. Bloem Celtics has great following and translates to an electrifying atmosphere resulting from amazing energy even when their team is losing.  This is what I suggest we do, bearing in mind that in our PSL we have 16 clubs and 16 in the Mvela Golden League:

1.    Build support base around the so called ‘2010 stadiums’: We have stadiums built for the 2010  World Cup which are functioning like they are supposed to, take Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, Green Point Stadium in Cape Town. We need to allocate the stadiums as home bases to our clubs so that the clubs are able to build home base support on those cities where the stadiums are. Yes there are stadiums in cities where there is no football team but to get this right and effective, some teams will have to make sacrifices and move to those cities so as to take advantage of this project. These stadiums will not necessarily give first preference to the teams already in the PSL, they will be allocated fairly and also based on which team is willing to move to make use of the stadiums.

2.    Have meaningful home games which reflecting the true meaning of what we call the home ground advantage: Every time I watch the PSL games I feel frustrated and drained because our games are always a joke and I mean this literally because I strongly believe that I am patriotic hence I am making these suggestions. It doesn’t make sense to me to have Kaizer Chiefs playing against the Maritzburg United in Port Elizabeth at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in an ordinary PSL fixture. None of these two teams are from Port Elizabeth. And yet PSL is hoping that the stadiums will be packed to the rafters. That is a pipe dream! It will never happen even if the game was a decider for a title. Kaizer Chiefs vs Orlando Pirates is just about the only game that gets SA standing and having it here in Johannesburg all the time makes great sense as it will also bring sense to business around as people would be travelling to Johannesburg to see this game. We cannot move it around not unless it is a cup final like they do in the EPL for the FA Cup or Community Shield or how they do in Spain when it is the Copa del Rey. PSL cannot continue running our football with emotions rather than with business acumen and having it making business sense. In this way a lot of companies will want a part of this but wanting to advertise, sponsor or offer more competitions and more money which will enhance our football to a respectful level like it is done internationally.

3.    Do away with the blanket approach in selling tickets and sell season tickets to ignite excitement: When we have meaningful home games, the supporters will see sense in buying season tickets for the PSL fixtures. Businesses will buy tickets as entertainment for their partners and clients. Schools, organizations and others will take advantage commentary surrounding the game which adds to the hype, excitement and momentum about the coming games which will be reported by the media. That will help our football. There are many ways of selling tickets which will generate real income; we cannot sell all the tickets at the same measly R40 because that does not offer security to people going to watch the games. Even SAA or 1Time or any other airlines do not sell the tickets at the same price. You could be sitting on the same sit next to a person who paid less than you paid for the same flight and that is how business works and adds to the exclusivity of having a ticket before anyone else. Our match tickets in the PSL are never commodities, we need to change that.

Having said this little, our football would grow and reach amazing heights and our matches will bring back the excitement we saw in years past. These three ideas, if implemented could boost our football. I could put together an amazing study and report on a number of great ways to help our football.

I love my South Africa but I don’t get that excitement I used to get as a little boy watching our football hence I thank DSTV for bringing us leagues like La Liga, Serie A, EPL, Bundesliga, League 1 and sometimes the Brazilian league which requires one to be up at 2am for an exciting football.

NB: South African Football is more than Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.

Read more on:    absa premiership  |  soccer

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