Tim Spirit: What happened to our patriotism?

2013-09-30 10:00

Sport, by its very nature, is a unifying exercise unlike any other. It unites communities, towns, provinces and nations.

In a country, people support their preferred clubs in different codes but then unite as one when the national team plays – forgetting their club allegiances.

While Orlando Pirates’ impressive run in the CAF Champions League thus far is for the team’s glory, there is a need for all South Africans to rally behind them.

At the level of this competition, it is not about which team any South African supports in domestic football but more about the country’s hopes that rest on the Bucs’ shoulders.

It is simple, if the Bucs do well – as they enter the semifinal stages of the competition – South Africa also wins.

Considering that participation by both Bafana Bafana and our clubs in CAF tournaments have in the past two decades or so heeded as few successes as the goals netted by a Premiership top scorer in a season, Pirates’ good run should be embraced by all in Mzansi.

While Pirates have received support from most quarters across the country, a worrying trend has emerged among some rival club supporters whose affiliations cloud their judgment.

This is not about a Soweto team, but South African team that will be doing battle in the African jungle.

In the recent game Pirates played against Egyptian giants Al Ahly, we saw some Kaizer Chiefs supporters going as far as calling themselves #friendsofalahly on social media.

It was also so disappointing to witness, on national TV, a man wearing a Chiefs jersey jumping for joy in the midst of a band of Zamalek supporters when the Egyptian club equalised in a match that Pirates ultimately won 4-1 at Orlando Stadium last month.

This kind of behaviour is quite embarrassing.

What has happened to patriotism?

Given the fact that they have their choice of teams, the point is that this is not about Pirates but the country against other African countries.

The Bucs are the country’s ambassadors and deserve to get the support from all and sundry.

But some supporters have brazenly taken their hatred too far, to an extent of rallying behind visiting teams.

The same attitude played itself out during the recent tours of English Premiership clubs when South Africans rooted for their visiting idols.

In this continental battle that Pirates are currently engaged in, the crowd element is a crucial factor in swaying the outcome of the match.

But in South Africa, it seems that even while a club is singing the national anthem and saying “united we shall stand”, the fan base is divided along club affiliation lines.

Granted, there are those hard core supporters who would never relent, no matter what, but that does not mean blind loyalty is the only way to go.

Are other clubs’ supporters so jealous that they don’t want to see Pirates earning their second star as African champions?

It would mean so much for South Africa if Pirates were to win the CAF Champions League as it would go a long way in regaining the respect we have lost in football.

Pirates need everyone’s support.

So let’s rally behind the Sea Robbers on Saturday when they take on Tunisian giants Espérance de Tunis at Orlando Stadium.

Even if you’re not a Pirates fan, at least show that you’re part of the rainbow nation. I know I’ll be there.

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