10 reasons why Zimbabwe’s football attendance has gone down and how it could be solved 

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By Leopold Munhende, Chief Correspondent 

THAT the Zimbabwean economy is not performing well and has resulted in people, fans especially not being able to afford luxuries, including the US$3 charged to watch football in Zimbabwe is obvious.

Questions around why there is low turnout, in Harare specifically, as Highlanders supporters pitch up in numbers at BF, should be interrogated beyond the “bhora ramazuvano rakubhowa” argument.

Teams in the PSL have to be asked whether they are doing enough to market their own matches, the PSL administration’s work has to be analysed too.

Below are reasons why I feel our Harare numbers have gone down, just a week after witnessing one of the worst turnouts for the Battle of Zimbabwe. 

  1. Teams are now lackadaisical in their marketing. Just a tweet and a Facebook post and they think they have done enough.- Teams have to realise they are now in competition with the EPL, SA premiership and other well funded and fun matches to watch. They have to be very aggressive in their marketing (roadshows, meet-the-players, competitions online and offline, radio and TV advertisements, media engagements on the derby to ensure it gets maximum media attention etc)

    – In this era of social media influencers, would it hurt to pay some of the most followed to advertise or encourage their followers to come watch football; I am sure Mai Titi, Madam Boss, Jah Prayzah and many more would be willing to do the job for a few coins.

    Bosso fan, Zibusiso Moyo argued teams and their players should invade colleges to entice students.

    “They should visit tertiary institutions, offer students tickets at half price, run radio promos. There is a lot they can do to encourage different communities to attend these matches,” said Moyo.

    “If these new recruits attend and enjoy chances are high they will come of their own accord next time.”

  2. The PSL is failing to market the match totally. How can we have a match of this importance only being spoken of on App, no adverts, posters, etc 

    – the Soweto derby was sold out last week. Being its main draw-card, the PSL should take an equally active role in its marketing; this is the PSL’s cash-cow and should at all costs be sold out.

  3. The NSS is not convenient for some as compared to Rufaro stadium.
    – Realise, you can get transport to Mbare from most areas of Harare including ana Ruwa, Chitungwiza, even Norton which probably boosted numbers at the ceremonial home of Zimbabwean football. For one to get to the NSS they need two kombis coming from most areas.

    – This however is the case in Bulawayo, at BF, as not all of those who fill it up stay in Mzilikazi or Makokoba.

    – If Zupco can be engaged to ferry Zanu PF supporters anywhere in the country, surely the two biggest clubs (esp. Dynamos as it is the most affected) can talk to officials at the public transport operator for reasonable charges or even free transportation of its fans in exchange for advertisement on matchday kits, training kits or even the team bus.

  4. The National Sports Stadium (NSS) is too big, even if 10 000 fans pay to watch, on camera it would look like a drop in the ocean.
    – There is an urgent need to refurbish stadia such as Gwanzura, Rufaro, which when full are a sure sight for the cameras 

    – Playing all matches at the NSS only makes it seem like there are no fans in Zimbabwe.

  5. The PSL has failed to realise that football is not just about the 90 minutes, some come to drink and should be accommodated. If they are to allow alcohol more fans might come.

    – Plastic cups, the ones which cannot be thrown onto the pitch easily can be used instead of bottles.

    – The fact of the matter is fans are drinking in stadia, the police manning entrances are making a killing letting alcohol in. 

    – Seeing as we are already being sponsored by Castle Lager, why not allow Delta beverages to be sold inside for a profit. Allow other companies to do the same for a share of the spoils.
  6. Creating superstars– Clubs should by now have realised the importance of creating superstars with cult like following. Players who will attract fans to stadia before they kick a ball. This was the case yesteryear, and without naming anyone, there is no reason why it should not be the case now. Superstars are a creation and media officers at these clubs know this.

    – Ronald Chitiyo of Simba Bhora has a loyal fan base which watches all his matches, these fans have a bus which they travel in to watch Rooney play wherever he goes.

    – Players should be useful to clubs beyond the 90 minutes they spend on the pitch. Teams should use them for marketing purposes to earn more.

  7. Fans are to an extent to blame for the low turnout. They cannot be exonerated totally. 
    – Local football can only develop if they take a deliberate initiative to watch the boring football which players and coaches are accused constantly of delivering on the field of play.
    – There are just too many fans who have resigned themselves to criticism without watching a single match in over a decade. These talk of yesteryear matches, razor sharp players who used to don certain colours but do not know how well FC Platinum passes the ball, how good Ronald Chinyengetere, Walter Musona or Bill Antonio are.

    – They base their arguments on social media posts, newspaper articles and short videos shared online specifically to ridicule and ignore the good which is rarely talked about.

    – Lowering the price of a match ticket from US$3 to the suggested US$1 is a good idea but can only be talked about by those who attend matches, those who are affected weekend after weekend.

  8. The media should up its game too. Mainstream media has done a lot in promoting our local game but still more needs to be done.

    – Kudos to what new platforms such as Libertino and Munashe Chokodza Photographyare doing but we need more.

    – New technologies mean we have potential to do better; podcasts, vlogs with players, coaches, supporters.

    – It will be welcome if a template is developed from those which have worked in developed countries such as England.

  9. The PSL can, if possible, change kickoff times not to clash with more attractive games in better financed and organised leagues.

    – It does not make sense to fixture Dynamos and Highlanders at the same time as the El Clasico is being played; a considerable section of supporters will definitely, without thinking twice opt to watch the biggest clash on the planet.

    – Shifting the kickoff time might work.

  10. To build online followership, it could be necessary for the PSL to allow clubs to livestream or broadcast their own matches on their preferred platforms.- Club administrators have intimated that they are getting nothing from the ZTN Prime deal and so being broadcast on DStv by the Zimpapers entity is already not benefiting them directly in anyway.
    – If this is agreed we could soon have clubs also tapping into opportunities brought by new communication technologies and platforms such as YouTube not just gate takings and the little which come through from sponsors.

After all has been said and done, these teams should just know how to pass the ball, at least five passes are okay, we will appreciate.