COST OF FANDOM GOES WITH LOVE
By: Nhlanhla Ndlovu
“I promise to be there for you when you need me, whenever you need me.” Such vows complete the marriage between a loyal fan and his football club.
To most loyal “twelfth men”, investing financially is a way of showing love to their respective clubs. “Twelfth man” refers to fans of the game of football, as eleven take part on the field of play.
Being an honest twelfth man needs time, commitment and love. Transport, food and team regalia, costs money.
“I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honour you all the days of my life.”
This promise is similar to the one made by super fan Thulebona Sibisi to his AmaZulu Football Club.
Since 1982, Sibisihas worn his Amazulu colours on his sleeve. The 32 years of struggle with the club has never changed the way he feels about the club.
“We won’t leave this club. I just want to make a promise that we will die for the team,” said Sibisi in an interview with Journalismiziko, although the squad is yet to win a game in the 2014/15 season.
“Money is not a problem if you have love,” Sibisi said, as he spent thousands of rands to show love to the club.
“We buy season kits, helmets, voucher tickets and we also need travelling fees.”
“I’ve spent at least four to five thousand rands on Usuthu outfits and other related merchandise,” said Sibisi.
But their club also meets them half way, as sometimes they get free tickets and voucher packages which include the club’s kit .
Every professional club in the World has fans and a way to value them. Public Relations Officer of AmaZulu, Philani Mabaso, ensured the publication that all the spending of their fans does not go down the drain.
“Fans are viewed as an additional player within the team. Whether you are on top of the log, middle or the end, their presence is crucially important because they provide that support and that encouragement to players in general,” Mabaso elaborated.
Fans always have something to say whether the club is doing well or bad. Like all other fans Usuthu faithful also “have a say” in decisions made by the club, Mabaso confirmed.
A group of AmaZulu fans took their unhappiness about their former coach Craig Rosslee to another level after marching into the club’s training ground in early October.
Such incidents comes as proof of how the clubs and fans value each other since it led to the dismissal of Rosslee.
Sibisi and Mabaso revealed that the history of the club helps them to have so many faithful fans, even though the club is going through a rough patch at the moment.
“The heritage and the history of the club is what makes them stick together with the club. They have supported the club for the past 10, 15 or 20 years,” Mabaso added.