HARARE – The pegging of the Mbada Diamonds Cup gate charges at $1 is a welcome move that is likely to ensure massive attendances at various local stadia where matches will be played this weekend.
It is our belief that the decline in fan turnout in recent years in the local game is mainly a result of prohibitive entry charges that have at times reached the $5 mark.
This school of thought emanates from what we have witnessed during tournaments like the Independence Trophy where matches are played before capacity crowds.
While we acknowledge that there will be other activities that precede the football matches during Independence celebrations, people are not forced to stay and watch the football match and the fact that they choose to do so should speak volumes about their love for the game.
Women and children are usually in the minority at stadiums but this is usually not the case when entrance to the stadium is free and hopefully the weekend ties will be a family affair.
This is because someone who usually pays $5 for a rest of the ground ticket will be able to bring along a partner this weekend and hopefully people will bring along their families to enjoy the cup action.
This is something that we urge the sponsors to maintain throughout the whole tournament because a full house adds something to the atmosphere at football matches.
The air becomes electric and the players are spurred to perform to greater heights by the large volume of noise from the terraces.
We realise that some teams that have a large following do feel hard done by the decision by the sponsors to reduce gate entry fees since gate takings will be shared between the participating teams and they feel that teams with fewer supporters will ride on their backs.
It must be noted that while this concern may hold water with a team like Highlanders, who will be involved in a double header and may end up getting a pittance despite being the major crowd puller of the four teams that will play at Barbourfields on Sunday; no team will incur any losses since the sponsors will cover all the costs of staging the matches.
And after all is said and done, the target for participating teams must not be to benefit from gate takings but to win the big prize.