Tim Spirit: Action’s the only way for players to answer bullying ‘boo boys’

2013-11-04 10:00

A s a player, you can never take on football fans.

It’s not a fight you’ll win, even if you are right.

What Kingston Nkhatha did last week after scoring the equaliser against Orlando Pirates could come back to haunt him.

Even though he was frustrated by the booing, he chose the wrong way to vent his feelings.

Nkhatha reacted angrily to Kaizer Chiefs supporters who had been calling for his withdrawal as early as the second minute of the game.

He celebrated his goal by gesturing to the fans to shut up, obviously overwhelmed by emotion.

But what he, and other players who might find themselves in the same situation, should know is that the only match a soccer player can never win is one against the fans.

Fans have been around before him and they’ll be there long after he has gone.

Nkhatha, please pick battles that you know you can win. Yours was a temporary victory that will fan the flames of a never-ending war. And with conflict comes casualties.

The only way to cover yourself in glory when booed is to score a goal. It’s a big enough statement, so why add gestures to your statement? It can only be fuel to the fire.

When a player retaliates, it only serves to fuel the anger and fans then react further.

Football supporters are fickle. One moment they will celebrate with you if you score, and the next they will be on your case again if you miss a ball.

That’s how they are. You can never satisfy them.

Players need to show emotional intelligence by not succumbing to the temptation to hit back at their supporters, because they need them on their side.

Silence is the best way to answer booing fans.

Also, a goal or a good performance speaks volumes – more than hand gestures that only serve to give the “boo boys” more ammunition.

They will want to get back at a player who does this, literally the next time he puts a foot wrong.

Players may feel hard done by as they go out to do their best, but they cannot allow their emotions to cloud their judgement.

No one goes out there to deliberately miss a goal, but now and then players have a bad day on the field.

Supporters’ rowdy behaviour cannot and should not be encouraged as they often pull down players with their thuggish actions.

Instead, they should be supportive when the chips are down – that’s when players need them most.

But the fact is they probably know what individual players are capable of and when they don’t see it, they feel justified in venting their frustrations.

As paying customers, supporters think they are always right, so all players can do is go back to the drawing board and come back as better players, ­rather than feeling ashamed.

Instead, these players need to adopt the adage: when life throws lemons at you, bring salt and tequila so you can enjoy your success.

I hope Nkhatha will come out of this episode a better person, knowing he has to change his attitude and winChiefs fans over.

His only response and means of silencing the boos should be his performances on the field.

He should ignore fans’ provocations as it will distract him causing him to take his eyes off the ball, and that will play into their hands.

I believe you cannot put a good man down and it is time for him to get his act together.

As for the supporters, shame on you! You are letting your players down.

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