Talking Football Lawrence
I look at football from a different lens. I simply believe that apart from the business aspect, the game’s biggest obligation is to entertain the fans.
One of the big takeaways I have had this week while following the local game is; oddly, fans are now more excited about the Northern Region Division One more than the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League.
I watched the dull goalless draw between FC Platinum and Dynamos at Mandava two weeks ago and I understood why the clash was not even advertised that much.
Apart from Frank Makarati showing Norman Mapeza what he missed at AFCON, I saw nothing interesting in that game, which I still maintain was two points dropped, rather than a point gained for Dynamos.
In terms of quality in both teams and the the resources channeled, you would expect both DeMbare and FC Platinum to be title contenders and equally expect a meeting between the two sides to live up to such.
That wasn’t the case.
I also watched Dynamos’ meeting with Chicken Inn at the National Sports Stadium last Sunday.
At first glance, I couldn’t believe the paltry crowd at the giant facility for such a league game pitting two teams who are genuinely expected to fight for the title.
I then remembered that there is another condition to watch the local league games in stadiums rather than the USD3 cheapest ticket- the Covid-19 vaccination card.
I also remembered that the National Sports Stadium, unlike Rufaro, has some logistical issues which might hinder fans from thinking about traveling to watch league games.
A Murehwa-based DeMbare fan can disembark from a bus at Mbare Musika and walk straight to Rufaro to watch the Harare giants but when it comes to the National Sports Stadium, he needs to get into the Central Business District first, then also has to commute from town to the giant facility.
I took everything into account and simply concluded the less than 2000 crowd, was a result of an interplay of several factors.
That being said, I expected better football.
Chicken Inn walked away with the three points, courtesy of a second-half Brian Muza strike but overall, the football displayed by the two sides was not impressive.
Then came the Northern Region top-of-the-table clash between Herentals U-20 and Simba Bhora.
How the clash was previewed by the media, awe-struck me.
Fans braved the rains in Harare to watch the eagerly-awaited clash at Morris Depot, in sharp contrast to the empty stands at Premiership games.
Even legendary sports journalist Robson Sharuko agrees that there is a big difference between Division One and Premiership, in terms of how fans watch the game.
“Watching Simba Bhora and Herentals U-20 at Morris Deport. The good crowd and life in the stands, is what the PSL is lacking, they should borrow a leaf from Division One,” he wrote on microblogging site Twitter.
Herentals won the match 2-0 and I even saw a well-executed match report the next day.
I stand corrected if wrong, but I doubt if the once-mighty Harare derby between CAPS United and Dynamos, can attract at least 5000 fans right now.
I also doubt if fans of the game can look forward to the game, as much as they do when it comes to games in the Northern Region, particularly those involving Herentals, Simba Bhora, and Golden Eagles.
Is Division One football slowly eclipsing the PSL in terms of fan interest?