I love watching football; the moves, the runs, the tackles, the saves and, of course, the goals. I see football almost like a choreographed dance; but one that no-one can predict the outcome of. It’s not called the beautiful game for nothing.
Football in the Tusker Premier League has been slowly maturing over the years and we may not be the English Premier League but we are on a journey.
While football is played on the pitch, it’s the entire process that excites me; and a vital part of that focus is the fans. No matter how great the quality of football is on the pitch, the difference between a full stand and en empty one is immense. One football player once told me that football is like a stage performance and, being a thespian once upon a time, I know how frustrating it can be playing to an empty theatre.
The 2012 Tusker Premier League season comes to a head this Saturday and three teams can still win – Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards and Tusker. As many have analysed already; based on performance it’s almost a sure thing that all three teams will win their last matches on Saturday. Since Gor are in prime position, that would give them the trophy.
The reason I think Gor should win the trophy is because of the ripple effect of more fans coming to the stadium and with that more interest from Corporate Kenya. Three seasons ago Gor was playing to scanty gatherings of fans. The team was not doing well and interest was low. Two season ago excitement grew as Zedekiah Otieno led the club to their best ever finish in years – second place. That immediate resulted in more fans.
Last season it was AFC Leopards that finished the season strong and that too meant loads of fans coming back.
This season has been the best in years! For more than a decade we have not seen Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards both finish in the top three in the same season. This league needs the two teams to do well to draw their already existing, dormant fans back to active “duty”. The fans who have come on board this season also need to commit to supporting their teams, regardless of what the future holds.
In the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s Gor and AFC games were filled to capacity. As the good form died down in the late ‘90s and early this century, the fans disappeared. That didn’t help the clubs that struggled to rebuild themselves through the last decade or so, with AFC even sitting out a season after being relegated.
It’s easy to support a club that is winning but I urge fans to stay put even when their club is struggling.
Other community teams like City Stars, Sofapaka and, unfortunately, the relegated Rangers FC, need to do a lot more to recruit fans so that more matches can be as exhilarating to experience as Gor and AFC matches are.
In fact the few Sofapaka fans need to rise up and pick their team up from their current dip. Someone pointed out to me on Sunday, as we were watching KCB v Sofapaka at the City Stadium, that the Sofapaka dancing girls had disappeared. At the height of Sofapaka’s success there was an average of eight ladies dancing to the beat of the paka-drums.
On Sunday there were just two.
Anyway I digressed a little there. Regardless of who wins the Tusker Premier League on Saturday, I believe we have crossed yet another hurdle this season. Not only has fan attendance and interest grown but more sponsors have stepped forward to support clubs.
Even acts of hooliganism have died down to the point where parents are bringing their children to the stadium. I saw a few families all in green at the City Stadium on Sunday. The biggest development this season though, has been the title sponsorship taken up by Tusker.
Clubs now have more money going their way than ever before. We still fall short of course but things can and should only get better.
There is no turning back. We are moving forward in league football development and I suggest you jump on the development bandwagon now.
As ambassadors of the league, we need to market it to our friends, families and business partners who could provide sponsorship; the list is endless on who we can convert to be ambassadors. In fact next season try and ensure that every time you go to the stadium you bring along a friend who has never been.
I am excited at how the season has developed and I can’t wait to see what new and positive developments we’ll see as the 2013 season begins.
Hello tomorrow, we’re heading your way.