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Opt to watch Simba ‘great football’ at San Siro, Villa Park

THE arrival of stylish Luis Miquissone to team up with tactical John Bocco, Meddie Kagere and Clatous Chama upfront has added power to Simba’s great football, now it the most adored team.

The new look Simba has won hearts of the majority Tanzanians, and for the past three seasons, the Msimbazi street side, has been drawing a huge attendance in their matches in and outside Dar es Salaam.

Surprisingly, besides all great football, tactical moves and spectacular goals, the attendance at the National Stadium when Simba and or their traditional rivals Young Africans play, has sharply gone down.

The situation has been even worse in the matches staged under floodlight, like the Wednesday match when Simba defeated Azam at the National Stadium, the arena was almost empty.

It is astonishing to see even the number of minibuses full of red and white flags, has slacken, something that evidences a sharp drop in attendance or a love for live football.

Where are the people?, one would say they are at San Siro, not AC Milan Stadium or at Villa Park, not an arena that hosts Mbwana Samatta’s Aston Villa matches, but they are among the popular bars where most people prefer to watch local and international matches.

And yet, for there are many viewers watching at home, it might come as a surprise to see that, despite this being Tanzania’s Premier football competition, the crowds have been, at sparse. However, other matches have been sparsely attended for various factors such as location.

What is seen in Tanzania and probably in the rest of Africa can stem from a cultural difference between European and African football. In Europe, and particularly England, people place a huge importance on going to club football, which then extend to travelling with the national team. Watching in the ground makes you a ‘real’ supporter.

However, in much of Tanzania and Africa most people’s main experience of football is watching foreign leagues - especially the Premier League-on TV. The standard is higher, you support a team, and you accept that you won’t be able to watch in the flesh.

The empty grounds don’t show a lack of interest, then, just a different way of supporting. It is common in Africa to watch games on TV as opposed to attending games in the flesh. In sprawling city of Dar es Salaam, a resident of areas like Bunju must travel over 30 kilometres to the National Stadium, while fighting against endless traffic jam.

Football enthusiasts claim they feel comfortable watching the local matches rather than taking troubles and high risks to watch a match at the national stadium. And, when you see huge blocks empty seats, it doesn’t mean that no-one cares.

They just watch their football in a different way. As opposed to last season when Simba earnings most often could collect over 300m/-from a match staged at the National Stadium, it will be a miracle if the gate collection can exceed 20m/-with an exception of Simba versus Yanga clash.

As evidenced through the latest match between Simba and Azam, Young Africans versus Mbao, the attendance in the matches played under floodlight was disgustingly poor, hence denying a hosting club the much needed income.

It is not bad to stage under the floodlight since our football must cope with speed of the global football, but considering its effects on attendance and gate collection, the Premier League board and the football governing body (TFF) must avoid staging night matches unless it is very necessary.

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