To boo or not to boo?

2013-11-03 10:00

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Timothy Molobi gets professional opinions on the recent spate of fans booing players from their own clubs.

Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter and his AmaZulu counterpart Craig Roslee are caught between a rock and a hard place on whether to field Kingston Nkhatha and Tapuwa Kabini in their clubs’ next games.

The pair have?been at the receiving end of the boo brigade.

Amakhosi’s Nkhatha was jeered by his supporters during last weekend’s Soweto derby, while Kapini was hit by objects thrown by a section of disgruntled Usuthu fans while making his way from the pitch after conceding nine goals in two matches.

This is not the first time players have been subjected to this behaviour, something Baxter has described as “amateurish”.

The Chiefs coach had some harsh words for supporters, who have been calling for the Zimbabwe striker’s head.

“People can call that culture, but I call it madness. It’s amateurish and if we want to go anywhere in South African football, and especially Chiefs, they should just kick that habit immediately,” said Baxter.

“I think it’s an absurd state of affairs and if our supporters classify themselves as real supporters, they will kick the habit because it’s despised by everyone in the Chiefs dressing room.”

Former Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns coach Ted Dumitru says the problem is that clubs have little control or influence on the supporters’ ill-tempered and offensive behaviour.

He says there is no mechanism to educate those fans who lack respect.

“Although players may react differently to such abuses, in general, these cases completely break the relationship between them and the supporters. The players feel alienated,” says Dumitru.

Retired professional striker Pollen Ndlanya, who has also fallen victim to the same misfortune, says it is easy to turn the “hecklers into your fans”.

According to him, the game needs loyal supporters who understand that sometimes players go through dry patches.

“My advice to the players is to concentrate and not react. Just shut up and do the job,” Ndlanya says, in reference to Nkhatha’s response to Chiefs’ supporters last weekend.

The Zimbabwean international gestured back at the supporters after scoring against Pirates.

Ndlanya has pleaded with the coaches to provide support for their players.

“If your coach shows confidence in you, you tend to go all-out to repay the confidence?...?our coaches should always support the players in public,” he says.

Whether to field a victimised player or not

The decision should be taken after the coach evaluates and considers factors such as:

»?The mental state of respective players and their commitment to continue playing or request not to play until the situation normalises;

»?The needs of the team, as the player in question might be integral to the team’s overall strategy;

»?The risk factor, as fans may increase their hostility towards the player(s); and

»?When it becomes obvious that severe psychological harm is impeding the player’s performance and the situation is obstructing the the team in advancing their objectives in leagues and tournaments.

The fans should be made aware of the consequences such a crisis may have on team performances and the image of the club. – Ted Dumitru

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