Thursday, July 24, 2014

Why Mpumalanga Black Aces does not belong to Mpumalanga. This is a game of numbers

Mpumalanga Black Aces break my heart as they belong to Gauteng. They have a Witbank name, a Johannesburg base and a Nelspruit home ground. How come? MBA spent a few First Division One seasons in Emalahleni, sometimes sharing the training facilities with archrivals, Witbank Spurs. That did not end on that clash of interests.

After the promotion to the bigger league, the kraal became too small for the two bulls. Besides, Amaziyoni wanted class and the training grounds and facilities were not first class. The Puma Stadium did not meet their professional standards. The MBA owners’ response to that need was to renovate and expand.

The custodians of the stadium were in no mood to permit that, as many stakeholders were involved, including the rugby community. Speculation has it that the local Municipality’s response to the request for land to develop a new facility did not go well. It is not clear if the land was available to start with.

Let us do the numbers now. Mpumalanga as a province has about 3 000 000 people, with Witbank accounting for about 322 000. Compare that to 2 000 000 Namibians and bear in mind that the capital city, Windhoek, whose population is around 295 000.

Witbank, and indeed Mpumalanga has no ABSA Premier Soccer League team, while Windhoek has 9 Namibia Premier League teams, 7 Division One team, 12 Second Division teams. Emalahleni and the whole of Mpumalanga has only Witbank Spurs in Division One. There are only 3 ABC Motsepe Second Division teams in the city and 38 SAB Third Division teams in the region. These numbers do not add up.

Maybe it is not about number, as these are exciting football times. As much as figures do not lie, they lie. If numbers are anything to go by, China and India would win all Fifa World Cups. Brazil would have won the latest version because they have around 20 million registered professionals playing in their 21 states and overseas.

How much you believe in that, I leave it up to you, but the issue close to my heart worries me about the communities’ ability to build homegrown town heroes. The small cities lost many cult heroes to bigger towns for obvious reasons. The playing ground being a little level, the population is content to sit out and live the past. This also brings the subject of yesterday; the foreign coaches in our national team.
While mentioning over 20 000 A Licence coaches from Spain, Germany and France, Danny Jordaan should be delivering a local coach, given his numbers that South Africa has 67 of them. Supposedly, the 32 coaches are involved with local PSL and NFD teams, one each for Amagluglug, Amajita, Amajimbos, Banyana Banyana, Basetsana and so forth. It means there is still over 27 over qualified coaches in either lower leagues or unemployed.

Anyway, the stadium is rarely occupied when Spurs plays their home games. We are sometimes unaware that they play at home. The marketing can be better but that is subject for another day. The point is that unless Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates are in town, there is never soccer fever because there are no home town heroes like Frank Makua or Dumisa Ngobe anymore.

When push came to shove, Port Elizabeth imported pride at a good cost. I believe Emalahleni could have taken a leaf from the act of bravery shown by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. They courted Chippa United, attracting them to move from Cape Town.

That savvy business move to PE is rumoured to be subject to R35 million exchanging hands. The Municipality knew the benefits that came with multi-million rand deal. Of course, Chippa United scored a good buck too.

Just as scrupulous, the Maritzburg Municipality realised the business potential of having a PSL team at their doorstep. Actually, rumour has it that Maritzburg United were the first choice team for the NMBM but their local City Fathers got wind of the news and hijacked the project. They counter offered their rivals and landed the deal. At the end of the day, both Municipalities got their fish and both Chippa and Maritzburg United smiled all the way to the bank.

You may be wondering where this is going. Emalahleni Municipality could have paid less for what the two other municipalities did for the same product. Mpumalanga Black Aces may be now looking for the same deal with them or any other suitor. The City Fathers could have upgraded the facilities to the required standards, or built new ones for the benefit of this team and the new ones coming up.

The City will have many more teams in both the Premier League and First Division and soon. The facilities are needed as a matter of urgency.