I am not an ardent soccer follower, not because of the myths associated with it but because that’s the way I am. Others of my friends may dispute my claim because they will say that am a Manchester United fan. It’s unfortunate or maybe fortunate because I have never had the chance to watch the proceedings live at ‘our’ Old Trafford. Watching a local league match at our ‘giant’ Kamuzu stadium you will always get a bonus thereafter.
On 8th September 2013, I initially planned to spend the whole day at home if not for a friend who came by and I had to change my plans and thought of going with him to have a walk in Ndirande. Coincidentally it was on the same day that a Carlsberg cup semi-finals game between Kamuzu Barracks and Blantyre United was being played at the neighboring Kamuzu stadium. On our way home as we neared Maranatha International Academy, we saw a huge crowd dispersing from the stadium and according to my sources the match had stopped abruptly after a red card was handed to a Blantyre United player while the visiting military side was leading 2 goals to nil and this angered the home supporters who started throwing stones and this caused curls at the soccer arena.
Comrades of the Malawi Police Service were seen everywhere throwing teargas to the crowds in their famous ‘mbawula’ vehicles. There was tension as people did not know where to run to for safety. The sorriest site was for innocent by passers who suffered for something they did not know. People like me who did not even pay for the match were treated to the match bonus. Many people complained because of the reaction of the Police by getting into the Masauko Chipembere highway with their terrifying vehicles and even went to the extent of invading the Chichiri shopping mall where a lot of innocent citizens and even tourists were doing their shopping.
Am not here to blame our ‘reformed’ Police service because they were only doing their ‘job’ of protecting Malawi’s citizens but rather to help by identifying the cause of such commotion. On the other hand I cannot blame the angry supporters; hence they only wanted to show their anger with the referee’s unpopular decision of giving a red card where it was not necessary according to them. The referee may not even be the person to blame, because he operates within his rules which I am not familiar with.
My greatest concern is of what picture are painting for our local soccer? I suppose a football stadium is a place where the family has to go together on s bright Sunday like the one I experienced to relax. But how will parents be assured of the safety of their families with such common occurrences? How will the corporate world get the courage to support our football clubs?
It’s time that anyone of us has to take responsibility of making our local matches a safe place to be. The Football Association, Club management, referees association and the supporters have a role to play towards the improvement of our local soccer matches. It is because of this that many people prefer watching the English premier league rather than buying harm at an expensive price of K1000 at the Kamuzu stadium.