The eThekwini Municipality has taken to new levels in a bid to increase spectator numbers at Premier Soccer League (PSL) matches in Durban and will roll out a new campaign, starting with this week’s city derby between AmaZulu and Lamontville Golden Arrows.
|Amazulu and Pirates players @ Backpagepix
The two Absa Premiership strugglers meet at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday night and, under normal circumstances, will hardly expect to play in front of too many fans.
In recent seasons, no more than 5,000 supporters come along to watch the season’s biggest KwaZulu-Natal derby unfold, but this time around, that number is expected to be trebled as part of the first steps of a ‘My Team, My City’ campaign.
“We don’t want to keep returning to a stadium such as this and witness empty stands, that is not acceptable,” Thembinkosi Ngcobo, the Head of Parks, Recreation and Culture from the eThekwini Municipality said.
“This stadium was built at a cost of three billion rand and we want the facility to be sustained. One of the ways to sustain it is to have a firm fan base.”
The two clubs, along with provincial rugby and cricket representatives, the Sharks and the Dolphins, also form part of the initiative.
As part of the first steps to kick-off the campaign, 15,000 tickets are being freely distributed, while the balance of the tickets are being subsidised.
“It is a joint venture and we want to ensure that all the stadiums are filled to capacity firstly,” Ngcobo explained. “Secondly, we want them to be filled by a diverse population from various communities around Durban.”
The top city official said it was about time that people from all walks of South African life start embracing football.
“We have to deal with a wrongful perception that football is played only by black people and can only be supported by black people,” he said. “This needs to change and sport must unite all of us.
“For the past 18 months we have been looking more at how sport can play a role in integrating all of us as citizens of the city. We’ve also looked at how it can help generate the economy and promote tourism in the city.
“AmaZulu celebrates 80 years of existence this year and the club, in actual fact, has become an asset to citizens of the city.”
The two clubs are sitting bottom of the league table after the opening two rounds of games, but Ngcobo was adamant their form will not be a deterrent for fans.
He added: “The fact that these two teams are not doing too well at the moment, gives even more reason to support them.
“We need to get behind them and buy into their heritage to make everyone feel more and more as part of the team.
“It is an ongoing campaign and we’ll be trying our best to get all the stadiums full whenever our teams are playing at home.”