By Nikolaos Kirkinis / Sports / 11th October 2016
As my first piece of writing for Halfway Crooks, I want to try convince you to do something that you really don’t want to – like peppering your spaghetti with jelly-babies and marinating it in Sprite. It doesn’t sound delicious but you may just be surprised.
South African football – most people sigh at the sound of the subject. I know this, I grew up in a private school being the only white boy to support Kaizer Chiefs in a sea of Sharks and Stormer’s supporters (which is hilarious considering I grew up in Joburg).
In the early days it was my father and I that were the only Mlungu’s in sight at the stadiums. I have passionately watched every Bafana Bafana game since I was a youngster, and as expected, it had been a massive test of my patience that is yet to pay off.
But you know what else I have always been? A Golden Lions supporter, and that turned out alright, although it did take about as long to bare fruit as an avocado tree buried in snow.
Patience – I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. Patience and loyalty is what it takes to support a sports team. Sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s not the point. The point is that you were there.
I was forbidden from supporting Manchester United, Liverpool, or Chelsea from a young age, my old man used to say “were you born in Manchester, Liverpool, or London? No. Then why would you support their football? Pick a local team and stick with it.”
Of course the quality of local football is not on par with overseas, but you’re missing the point. We watch football for the culture, the people, and the language of it. I feel empowered by the fact that I can strike up a conversation with any security guard, painter, or high-powered executive because I can name the starting line up of their favorite local team. Whether they support Bloemfontein Celtic, Maritzburg United, or Orlando Pirates.
Watching local football is a beautiful thing because it makes you part of something bigger than a TV audience. So do it, ditch the golf club and come with me to a local game, you will be treated like royalty and received like a long lost family member at the stadium. The people who love these teams will be nothing short of eternally grateful that you have decided to step out of your comfort into their world.
And every now and then it pays off on the field too. Of course I feel disappointed and mind drained when I sit through a 90 minute 0-0 draw between South Africa and Lesotho. But every now and then, on the right day you may catch some Mzansi magic, such as Bafana Bafana beating world champions Spain 1-0, or France 2-1 (these things have actually happened).
On top of this, our boys seem to perform better when more eyes are on them, so do it, go to the stadium and inspire the local talent to new heights. You may just find yourself having some fun in the process, and you may walk away with a new perspective on the country you call home.