Soul searching begins as Bots fans disappear from the stands
By Bakang Mhaladi
Gaborone – Botswana soccer fans continue to disappear from the stadia in droves, and officials are now getting worried.
The past two seasons have seen match attendances hit rock bottom, but it was this week’s revelation that the four Mascom Top 8 quarterfinal ties attracted a combined paltry 4,500.
The Mascom Top 8 is the country’s premier knock out competition with healthy rewards of P1,2million for the winners plus a place at the Confederations Cup.
Fans are expected to drive their fans to the final and the ultimate prize, but that has not been the case as the supporters have decided to stay home.
Botswana Premier League (BPL) chief executive officer, Thabo ‘Styles’ Ntshinogang, and the Top 8 organisers were left searching for answers at the latest developments.
At the end of last season, Ntshinogang admitted that while the season had run smoothly there was the concerning issue of poor attendance.
That trend has rumbled on unabated after this week’s statistics revealed that only 4,500, on average around 1,100 fans per game, had bothered to pay to watch the Top 8 quarterfinals.
So dire is the situation that the Orapa United against Security Systems encounter at the Lobatse Sports Complex, a 26,000 seater, only had 100 fans.
Mochudi Centre Chiefs are one of the country’s biggest clubs and their clash against Top 8 defending champions, Jwaneng Galaxy was expected to excite fans.
But only 500 fans went through the turnstiles at the Jwaneng Stadium.
The Gaborone United and traditional crowd pullers, Extension Gunners match recorded the highest turnout with 2,445 fans in attendance.
Defending league champions, Township Rollers and army side, BDF XI attracted 1,484 people.
Ntshinogang admitted they are worried about the situation, adding they have even considered introducing ticket prices for kids.
“In that case someone might even sponsor tickets for a certain school,” he said. “We continue to urge clubs to galvanize supporters to attend the second legs,” he said.
Mascom Top 8 official, John Kgomotso also expressed concern over the low turnout but urged everyone involved to ensure supporters return to the stadium.