South Africa’s die-hard football fans bemoan the effect the lockdown is having on the game even as they attempt to keep the conversations going.
With sports events taking a big knock from coronavirus lockdowns globally, the venues and stadiums staging them have closed doors, and no one knows when the stars will come out to play again.
It is heartening though that in some places, local sporting groups, especially die-hard football fans, are keeping the spirit alive in their own way.
Take Football Conversations, a company founded by football fanatic Bandile Roro in 2017 and that is also airing as an eponymous show on Soweto TV.
Along with Tiisetso Mofokeng, the company’s CEO, Roro says the entire football community is in shock as they face an uncertain future.
“Football is about the moments, the comebacks and settling scores and when teams don’t have the opportunity to right yesterday’s wrongs today, then it becomes a problem not only for the football teams, but for the fans as well,” adds Mofokeng.
He says this particular anecdote does not only apply to the 90 minutes on the pitch but also to the information and content Football Conversations beams to the public on television.
“An episode that we air the week before, builds up a hunger and desire for a little bit more the following week and when we don’t get that opportunity to air, that’s how one sees how the pandemic poses a problem,” he says.
The lockdown has affected filming as their shows are usually shot in multiple locations to give every episode a different feel.
But the countrywide infections and deaths have stalled all such ambitions.
“This throws the question of morality; how is content creation important when people’s lives are at stake and that is something we had to understand, but also, on the other side of the coin, Football Conversations creates content as escapism at this time of uncertainty,” says Mofokeng.
“Football Conversations endorses the directive from the president,” adds Roro. “We do believe that this particular period will flatten the curve with fewer new infections and the sooner we adhere to it, the sooner we can return to our normal lives.”
The company had signed a procurement contract with a private entity prior to the lockdown, but things are on standstill for now.
Hopeful that the Covid-19 infection rate will slow and the lockdown will be lifted, the duo are now planning their next road trips and a new show, Off Pitch Goals, on players and their businesses.
“We also produce podcasts on Spotify and YouTube to engage with our fans just to keep soccer discussions afloat,” says Roro.
The game may have been affected, but the goals stay the same.