Birth of a new supporter

It’s not everyday that one becomes a new supporter of a sport or team. Today is my time though. I’ve expressed in bold terms the patriotism I feel for my country and my support for Bafana Bafana during the World Cup, however I believe it is high time that I start supporting a local soccer side. The problem is that I’m not sure who to support.

The local soccer scene is dominated by the PSL Premiership with 16 reputable teams (read: franchises) for me to choose from. But what is my criteria for choosing a side at this stage? There are a few … and maybe you could help me decide?

1. Geographical location

This is probably the basis for many a supporter’s fervent (and sometimes fanatical) allegiance with a sports team. So for example, I’ve been a Natal Sharks rugby fan since as far back as I can remember. My earliest memories are of living in Margate in Kwazulu-Natal, hence my support of their rugby side. I also support the Springboks because I am a South African, have been since birth, and have lived here since then.

So I could choose a PSL team to support that is based near to where I live. Problem: there is no easy way to find out which PSL side is based here. I’m a whitie with a suburban upbringing … I haven’t the foggiest where half these sides play their soccer! The website is so geared towards promoting the brand and franchise that it’s difficult to ascertain where the side is based and what general area can be claimed as “local”, except for sides who have a name like Orlando Pirates (it is reported that if you have a Pirates sticker on your car you are less likely to be hi-jacked … solid reason for support don’t you think?)

I live in Boksburg, on the East Rand of Johannesburg. Can you tell me which side is closest to where I live?

2. Brand

Another way of choosing a side is by deciding which brand I find most appealing. Let’s face it, the proliferation of the franchise model has removed teams from their traditional “homes”, so to speak. The “team” has become more of a portable brand than ever before. So, I could simply look at the logos and other brand paraphernalia, as well as maybe assess which people support a given side, assess their cool-ness, and then make my choice.

Certainly, Kaizer Chiefs would then be up there in contention. They are the most famous S’Effrican side thanks to the indie pop band of the same name. I do like the yellow 😉

3. Success

The success of a team is key to gaining new supporters, and is probably the easiest criteria for me to choose. It is also the most fickle of reasons though. For example, Ferrari’s support boomed in Michael Schumacher’s hay days, but is probably dwindling now due to lackluster performance. If I were to use success as a criteria I could support Mamelodi Sundowns as they have been the most successful franchise since the inception of the Premiership. Supersport United have however finished tops most recently.

I would then need to choose a team based either on most recent success or long-term success. But I don’t know, choosing a team to support based on success just doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t want to be one of those fickle supporters who pander after success – I want to choose a side and stick to them through thick and thin … fan for life kinda stuff.

4. Popularity

The last criteria I can think of is the popularity of the side. Granted, this criteria is almost inseparable from the success of the brand as well as the team overall success in championships. Manchester United is an example of a team that is supported because of a combination of all these elements. Again, I am a whitie and have no clue which PSL sides are the most popular. I only really know Chiefs and Pirates, not much more.

So, in the end I would like your advice on which team is worthy of my undying soon-to-be support. All suggestions (and motivations) are accepted.

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One response to “Birth of a new supporter”

  1. Andrew Coles says:

    Hi Aiden, Enjoyed your post. I have also recently decided together with my brother to begin supporting a local soccer side. I have settled on Mamelodi Sundowns. I have always had a liking for them, maybe it’s form my days in Potch when I had Trott moloto’s daughter in my youth group. So, for me I will done the yellow strip, and hope to bump into you soon at a local match. Andrew

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