I have always argued that football may be affected by the economy.
But, football fans will always love football and money for the beautiful game inowanikwa chete (money will always be available) as long as the product is good.
Good football, culminating from proper development structures,quality players, supported by good marketing for the game, and media hype, will always attract fans.
The “economy” excuse is valid. But, if the product is right and good,fans will always come,just like they always have the money for alcohol and musical shows.
When ZIFA announced that the cheapest ticket would be $10 for a national team match, the first reaction from some people, as always, was “in this economy, who can afford $10 to go watch soccer?”
Some street economists even drew up a budget, factoring in transport and food…and the amount rose to $20+.
And they said “people don’t have that kind of money”.
What I could have said to them is “Speak for yourself my brother. Those who love football will be there”.
ZIFA stuck to their guns and charged $10 for the rest of the ground.
Come game day, and the stadium was packed. I wonder what the “street” economists were saying when they saw the packed stadium.
What I am saying is that we should not cheapen football. We should not make football a poor man’s sport.
When we do that ,the corporations will also come in with poor offers to a “poor” sport.
Let football be elevated to its elite status. It is not a poor man’s sport.
Just because most of the players come from the getto should not make football a poor man’s sport.
It is entertainment and not a charity work yekuti vanhu vawanewo kwekuswera to drown their sorrows.
No. People should come to football to be entertained by actors in a theatre, which is the football field.
Entertainment is budgeted for all over the world. Zimbabwean football should rise to the standards of getting those that patronise pubs, beer halls and braai places on Saturdays or Sundays to come and get entertained at the soccer stadium instead.
A lot needs to be done for that to happen.
Fans should be given a memorable match day experience.
Proper food outlets should be established at the stadia.
The alcohol that people go to drink paweekend should be available at the stadia.
A family environment should be created at the stadium so that people can bring their families.
This environment should be supported by security from private security companies.
The ZRP has failed in maintaining order at the country’s stadia.
It is time authorities look at hiring private security firms to do the job, employ more marshals and have police as a supporting act at the stadia.
Merchandising should be a priority. Football business should not only end with ticket sales.
All these other activities drive revenue on match day.
Football should be attracting those people that can afford it, who have been staying away and patronising sports clubs and braai joints.
Football should be attracting football corporations, not just to sponsor but to participate in football and attend football matches.
We should see corporate boxes and booths on game day.
Corporates should be invited to come attend matches as organisations and their clients.
By being part of the crowd and observing, they would be potential partners.
It all starts with the administrators. Football administrators should handle football as a glamorous sport and give it the respect it deserves. That way the people looking at football will see glamour in it and treat it as such.
Corporates should be using football to advance their products, and not come to football as charity.
Apparently, a lot of club owners and executives are the first ones to give football a bad image and look down upon footballers.
You would hear some openly saying “vafanha vebhora vanonetsa (players are troublesome). Vafana vebhora mabharanzi hava kudzidza (they are not educated) and don’t deserve so much”.
Players are supposed to be glamorous. But, the lack of respect for footballers means a lack of respect for football.
This means corporates will also lack the respect and won’t be attracted to the game.
Football is as good a profession as any other. It is not inferior.
In fact, in other countries football is elite. Who made it elite? It is the people who made it elite.
In Zimbabwe we don’t hype it as it deserves.
That has led to a lack of interest from corporations.
The football administrators have been left behind modern trends in football.
Football should be glitz and glamour. And it is a short career. You should see how South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe loves his Mamelodi Sundowns players.
He wants them to look glamorous at all times and for them to live a great life. That way the brand of the club rose and it attracts partners who offer big monies.
Perception is key. I remember when Motsepe first arrived at Sundowns. He asked me and Godfrey Sapula to change our cars because the Nissan Sentra I was driving and Sapula’s Honda Ballade did not represent the Sundowns brand well.
Sundowns has many partners and Motsepe doesn’t have to fork his money out. Our club owners and executives could learn from Motsepe and Kaizer Motaung the owner of Kaizer Chiefs.
Last but not least,I am glad clubs like Chicken Inn, FC Platinum and Ngezi Platinum have seen the light and are moving in the right direction.Hats off to the administrators at those clubs.
Not yet there, but they are in the right direction.
I wait and dream of the day our football will be fully professional in every respect, from ZIFA, PSL, clubs, players and fans.