By Patience Lephogole
Today supporting a football team has an emotional attachment. It eliminates cultural differences, intellect, uneducated, employed and the unemployed.
What separates these people from one another is not the dosage of fanatics but their response to it.
Supporters can give up everything for the sake of their team. When they have intensive worry or reaction, supporters even go to the extent of having emotional distress or depression. One may recall an incident back in the days involving Township Rollers fans especially ladies before they did well, they had a tendency of fainting during games when their team is not doing well as they had expected.
Imagine one day a team is playing and there is no supporter in the stands. Sounds funny right? This reminds me of a time I went to BOLESWA intervarsity games in Lesotho, the University of Botswana’s netball team was about to be walloped by Lesotho because they had home ground advantage, supporters cheering, this did wonders as they were starting to score. Luckily for UB, their fellow school mates came from other sporting codes and cheered them, luck swept in thei9r way as they got motivated and start6ed taking their lead.
One may never undermine the power of supporters in football, for teams have shown that they need them for their day to day feedbacks. According to Township Rollers public relations officer (PRO) Bafana Pheto, they highly appreciate and acknowledge the power and role played by their supporters.
“We have included them through having National Branch Committee, which makes sure there is no gap between executive committee and branches, making sure that there is consultation and a relationship that is kept and nurtured,” he opined.
Pheto further noted that when the team plays and fans are heard in the stands, this brings out the best in players, hence changing the game situation. He said “Supporters can change how a team performs in a blink of an eye, they are always rallying behind the team, this gives the boys morale,” he opined.
For Gaborone United, supporters just like in Rollers have a great impact and influence on their performance as a team. The club’s PRO Boitumelo Nsunge said whenever they play and they see the red colors in the stands, the team gets motivated and plays to their best talent.
“When supporters sing and cheer, the boys would go cr5azy and display epic football, from passes, ball possessions to0 scoring goals,” he added.
Nsunge further added that when the team is not doing well at times it greatly impacts on supporters. He said “We send our counseling messages through social media, so that they are aware that there are dark days in football, but that does not mean we sit back, we use that in the next game. We do this so that they do not despair, instead attend next game so that they can cheer the team up.”
Although supporters often go overboard for their teams, they might receive the least in return. Take Mochudi Centers Chiefs football club for example, the supporters would on any given day sing ‘dikoma’ during matches to motivate their team.
Even when the team is at its lowest performance or its losing the game they wouldn’t care less. To note that their opinions during games matter, the Kgatleng based team supporters will throw insults to the referee, coach or a player in their team whose behavior they feel is inappropriate.
However, despite Chief’s bad performance this past season, the supporters rallied behind their team. There has been videos of one Mokgatla supporter, who would motivate his team through insults either directed to his team players or their rivals. This shows how fo0otball supporters have taken supporting to heart.
Both PRO’s have highlighted that supporters greatly contribute towards the development of the team. These they said varies from buying the team’s merchandise, attending games, gate takings as well as registering for team memberships.
However, supporters can change their love in moments of desperation but not their team; they would never go to another team. The game football is not simply a symbol of colors that reflect the social system but it is a social action that unites all the colors. In Botswana, the supporters are all actively involved in this action. The emotional responsibility or reaction towards one’s team sometimes obstructs being objective and thus supporters always want their team to win.