By Dino Ballotti
I was asked a revoking question a few days ago by a certain Elifas Heita, one of my all- time favourite defensive midfielders. He asked me whether my loyalties lay with Tigers F.C as they were ‘merely’ my employers, and cheekily assumed Ramblers or SKW to be my team of choice. With all due respect to both Rammies and Imawida (equally being my former employers) I am fully behind Ingwenyama – the people’s team.
Today I want to explain what it means to be a true supporter and why we Namibians need to actively start attending football matches and stop using social networking to act as fans. We all watch EPL on a weekly basis yet fall short of paying N$30 to support our local side’s battle it out at Sam Nujoma Stadium. We all make the time to watch the El Classico, Manchester and Soweto derby but when last did you go and watch the Katutura derby? When last did you purchase a local football jersey and proudly wear it with a Levi jean to Maerua Mall on a Saturday morning? When last did you convoy with 3 cars to go watch an away game at the coast? The problem we face as Namibians is that we do not see the value in supporting local, the value added we expect to see, we are just as much to blame for. Imagine a Namibian Premier League match with 10 000 spectators, generating N$ 300 000.00 at the gate. Imagine what clubs could do with this kind of income, how we could revolutionize local football. A TV rights deal would be struck with Supersport, corporates would be lining up to sponsor teams and use the branding rights, clubs would be able to employ full time staff which in turn would provide a means of living, the positives are endless.
I callously recall my days as a high school footballer, we were invited to partake in the HTS annual sports festival where most sport codes were competing. On the lower Academia field was the football and the upper main field rugby. I clearly remember how rugby had all the spectators whereas with football you would only find the reserve players and odd teacher. I learnt a valuable lesson that day, being that white parents are spectators and black parents are supporters. This may be a stereotype and my apologies if I am offending anyone, however, the proof is in the pudding. How many previously disadvantaged parents do you find at an u19 football match? And now compare that to how many previously advantaged parents you will find at the very same rugby match. Let us support our friends, brothers and cousins and go out and fill seats at the Sam Nujoma stadium, if not for yourself then for evolution of our game.
Tigers Sports Club, affectionately known as Ingwenyama have Namibia’s largest support base, with the richest club history. We have supporters from all spheres of the Land of the Brave, from politicians to villagers we are by far the most supported club. However, the spectators on match days are literally non-existent, besides the odd executive committee member and handful of former players. It is perhaps a cultural misconception that our support base follow us only in the daily papers and are quick to purchase replica jerseys but fail at forming a wave of blue on a match day. We will be taking on Ramblers today (Wednesday) with the prospect of going 3rd in the league, but I can already foresee 50 spectators being a lot. It is time for change my people, we need to play our part and not only in the streets but in the stands. I am publically pointing a finger at all Tigers supporters, yes you are included Leopald, and am challenging you to come and cheer on the mighty Ingwenyama. Leave this mentality of ‘ek sal net kom as hulle begin wen’ (I will only come when they start winning), let’s play our part and start the revolution. Up the Ingwe!
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015