For decades now the habit of cheering foreign teams particularly in competitive football matches involving Young Africans or Simba when they play at home has become a tradition, albeit one that many of us find absurd.
No wonder some soccer analysts have called the habit unpatriotic, and warned against over-stretching the well known home rivalries to the extent of offering unwarranted comfort and confidence to foreign teams playing on our soil against our teams.
It is possible that Yanga and Simba fans who have the habit of cheering the foreign sides during such encounters do not know that it is self defeatist, that they are adding insult to injury, where the home teams are the losers.
There is no way we can justify the demoralising of our players on their home turf when the nation expects them to go on to win, aided in part by what in sport circles is known as advantage of the home crowd.
While fans are free to cheer teams of their choice, we would expect them to apply the principle of charity begins at home in this case.
Our fans must bear in mind that neither Simba nor Yanga enjoy the advantage of foreign fans support when they travel away from their Dar es Salaam base to engage in continental championships.
For years now Tanzanian clubs have not made any impact in international tournaments due to various reasons including elements like a hostile home crowd that have an effect during play.
The trend has gone to the extent of home fans being coaxed to buy promotional merchandise of the foreign teams with which to cheer at the stands.
Couldn’t such efforts be directed at purchasing merchandise of our domestic teams? Would the revenue so earned not contribute to the overall earnings of our teams’ coffers that are always banking on sponsorship support?
It is true that our clubs and of course TFF have not seen these opportunities, which if exploited, would make a huge difference in their resources.
Sadly our fans are to some extent responsible for the gradual ‘death’ of football at club level which is in turn reflected in the national team’s dismal performance.
It is possible that some of them may be ignorant of the harm they are causing to the country’s soccer advancement, probably beating their chests when their ‘rivals’ are defeated.
If we work so hard to cripple each other who will advance? The success of one team might be an inspiration to the other and the competitive edge is likely to boost our football standard.
On the contrary this misdirected behaviour among fans will lead us nowhere as far as football development and promotion is concerned. We need to put aside our rivalries and show patriotism where our nation’s honour is at stake.
Officials of both Simba and Yanga in cooperation with the Tanzania Football Federation must embark on a sustained education campaign among soccer fans to show them the damage they are inflicting on the development of the sport in the country.