Cape Town City’s rapid rise to prominence, in just five months of existence, should provide ample proof of the strides the country has made with regard to parochial provincialism. There was much debate and quite a bit of teeth-gnashing when John Comitis bought the PSL franchise of Mpumalanga Black Aces and relocated the club to the Mother City. It’ll never work, they said. The players won’t adapt to the Cape, they said.
Really? Well, let’s see - City are through to the Telkom Knockout Final where they will meet SuperSport United on December 10, they are second on the PSL log and, in recent weeks, the new Cape club has put together an amazing seven-game winning streak. So what do the naysayers have to mumble about now?
Because, let’s face it, football is football the world over. It doesn’t matter where it’s played, it’s always about the ball, about commitment and courage, about talent and athleticism, and, importantly, about game intelligence, discipline and an insightful tactical approach. All of this, City have applied brilliantly - and the fact that these former Black Aces players did so in Cape Town has nothing to do with which province they are in. Rather, it has everything to do with their own individual ability, the dedication to the team ethic and their desire to achieve. Together with that, they have been supported by a professional, organised club structure and, in Eric Tinkler, one of the most astute and fearless coaches in the PSL.
Speak to any of the City players and they will tell you about playing for their fans. They may not be Capetonian - most of them - but they are playing for the jersey and the people who support the jersey. And this is the point exactly - We are living in a modern world, a universe which gets smaller by the day because of technological advances, yet we still allow ourselves to be caught up in petty provincial rivalries.
City’s arrival as a new club has shaken things up in the Cape. They’ve been a breath of fresh and the fact that the players are not from the Mother City means nothing at all. They’ve been accepted as footballers - fantastic footballers, at that - and they’ve responded in kind, by delivering performances that have continued to endear them to the public.
Speak to Comitis, and he will tell you that, when he first took the plunge to establish City in June, he knew that his top priority would be to make the former Black Aces squad as comfortable as possible. He knew he was uprooting them from their lives in Gauteng and Mpumalanga, and he had to make sure that the players had everything they desired in relocating to the Cape. It’s not about a province, it’s a simple case of organisation and empathy. And look where City are now!