In the latest edition of iDiski Times, Rob Delport previews today’s Soweto Derby, and how the lack of supporters and coverage has robbed it of it much of it’s splendour…
On January the 30th, the first Soweto Derby of 2021 will be played at the Orlando Stadium, as Orlando Pirates host Kaizer Chiefs in the DStv Premiership.
Unfortunately Covid-19 has robbed some of the hype from the game. There is not as much buzz or exciting build-up, no roadshows and very little media interaction, which is limited to digital press conferences – and of course there will be no spectators at the game.
The absence of the fans has changed the football. When the 12th man was present, there was no doubt that their energy was passed down to
the eld. The crowds cheered their heroes, and booed their villains. It was magic to feel and see; something we sometimes forget to appreciate when just being able to watching on TV.
The real noise of a crowd is the soundtrack to a sports match, they tell you what’s happening, reacting to each moment – the ebbs and the flows. While they have certainly tried to emulate that on TV with the manufactured soundtracks used in the past few months of spectator-less soccer, it is really as fake as canned laughter in those old TV shows.
In South Africa, football fans last attended games in March, before the first lockdown. There has been no indication on when they will return.
And it’s not only fans, but also the media that have been barred from covering games at venues. Only television broadcasters and a few select photographers have been allowed to attend games. And there has been no indication of when we, as media, will be allowed to return either.
Unfortunately a journalist covering the game on TV is only seeing what the broadcasters allow us to see. Football is not only about where the ball goes, which is for the most part how television coverage works. So at the moment it sometimes feels more like DStv’s Premiership, rather than the DSTV Premiership.
Journalists not having full access to football this season means that the build-up and coverage of this special game will just not be the same as it was before.
Former Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates coach Muhsin Ertugral says the build up to the derby is special. He loved seeing how excited the players were, and said everyone wanted to be involved.
“The preparation building up to the derby, it is always the exciting one too,” Ertugral told iDiski Times.
“You can see as well players that hardly could train through injuries suddenly wanted to train to play! It means a lot to the players, to everyone involved.”
However, Ertugral says what really makes the derby special is the rivalry, and that starts with the supporters.
“What makes the Soweto derby special, what makes it a great derby, is the rivalry,” Ertugral continued.
“That’s not only because of the players, the fans make it special. Any derby without fans is really just like any other game.”
“Fans in the stadium, and the atmosphere, that is what makes the game become a spectacle.”
”Unfortunately this year, the truth is that all of us are really missing the interaction with the fans.”
His best Soweto Derby memory?
“My best memories in the Soweto derbies is always the ones you win,” Ertugral says.
For much more on the Soweto Derby and other football stories, get your copy of iDiski Times now.