Since the early 2000’s there has been several streaks of violence during Highlanders games and it has become more of a norm that goes together with the package of being a Highlanders F.C fan. These violent acts have been growing from one season to another without much being done to resolve it.
Despite a new breed of Bosso supporters the violence still continues. One can be guaranteed that the person who was throwing a missile in the early 2000’s is not the same person that was responsible for missile throwing on the 17th of May 2017, hence proving that the culture has been carried over from one generation to the next generation of supporters.
The Club has chosen a stance of distancing itself from the violence and fans who threw missiles into the playing field. They have been rebuked and labeled as not being ‘genuine’ supporters of the team. However the questions that come to mind are; how is the team being siphoned by ‘not-genuine’ fans under the administration’s watch?
How does a ‘counterfeit’ supporter get to violently protest for what is not “genuinely” theirs to claim? Whether we like it or not these violent supporters are associated with the Football Club and hence remain a thorn in flesh .
So where is the problem?
The problem lies with the administration’s lack of initiation in tackling the bull by its horns. Tactically romanced press releases might save face today but they will eventually run the dictionary dry of words. In our own expression, pointing at a drowning person from a distance will not save that person from losing their life.
We appreciate the administration for speaking out and stating its position on the issue, however it is common knowledge that actions speak louder than words. Highlanders need to educate the fans on the consequences of hooliganism (yes that is the proper term in the soccer world) on them as fans and on the Club as well.
What I would suggest…
Very few public relations programmes, if any, have been rolled out by the Club to discourage violence during matches. The Club has failed to go out to the community and address the issue that is at hand. For example Bosso should not be too cool to do road shows in an effort to counter-attack the issue of violence during games. It might prove to be a milestone success and in the process it might help increase the already booming fan-base.
The ambassadors of the Club (the players and legends) are there and they can be used to channel the message because they already are in contact with the fans. The Club is dead on social media and mainly survives through accounts that have been opened by loyal supporters. There is need for the administration to have a strong commitment to social media, the team is 91 years old but this is 21st Century there is no excuse. NEVER underestimate the power of social media.
Another important suggestion to consider is having the fans register Charters with the Club. This will help identify who is ‘genuine’ and who is not. The culture and history of the Club is unknown to most young supporters Please EDUCATE them to realise how historically rich the Club is. The young generation is being poisoned by doctrines of hooliganism, there is need for the club to let them know that there is more to a Highlanders match than throwing missiles into the pitch.
Highlanders F.C is a community team (iTeam yezwe lonke) and despite the administration distancing itself from the actions of the fans (who are the community), it will continuously suffer from the ripple effects of the fans actions. In our minds if the violence is not acted upon this is what will happen; thousands of dollars will be lost to fines, players will go unpaid, strikes will occur, the team will perform badly and sponsors will pull out.
This will lead to the fans becoming more violent because of the poor performance and so on, until and the club is extinct. This is a cycle that needs to be broken before it is too late for the current supporters to leave a legacy for their future successors.
Let us make the community understand that Highlanders is a brand that is bigger than any stakeholder’s emotion.
ITHIMU YEZWE LONKE YITHIMU YEZWE LONKE.#NoHooliganism #ASIFUNIUBUMBULU