DURBAN - PREMIER Soccer League (PSL) team AmaZulu FC, a soccer commentator and a retired soccer legend have all welcomed the addition of former Free State outfit Bloemfontein Celtic, which has since been renamed Royal AM.
AmaZulu chairperson Sandile Zungu said he was happy for the new owner, businesswoman Shauwn Mkhize.
“To us this means less travelling costs, as we will be playing against each other. As amazing as it is, they come in as a competitor, and we will all be competing for dominance,” Zungu said.
Despite competing, he said they were able to corroborate with each other and they got along as chairpersons.
“I know Shauwn is a competitive person, and we appreciate that. She is in it to win it,” he said.
On Tuesday the PSL approved the sale of cash-strapped Bloemfontein Celtic to Royal AM owner Mkhize.
Celtic is expected to relocate to Durban soon, as the 2021/22 DStv Premiership campaign takes to the whistle this weekend, with Chatsworth Stadium being their home ground.
At a recent press conference, PSL chairperson Irvin Khoza said it took three days for the executive committee to discuss the issue.
Enzo Coppola, a professional soccer commentator, said a football club needed community in order for it to flourish.
“Currently, this club has no roots in KZN, and it will not be easy for it to flourish.
“MaMkhize will have to tap into the neglected territory of developmental football. She must have a little academy to produce players as young as seven years of age. She must also have a system put into place, a system that will say whether a coach comes or leaves,” Coppola said.
He noted that it took a lot of money to run a football club.
“After a few years, if she realises that she is not making a lot of money, she might want to sell, which is something that does not develop football.
“There is no more community level soccer, the playing fields are in dire straits. There is no grass, no fencing, etc. Professional teams are not prepared to invest in developmental football.
“Grooming your own young team creates revival, where people get excited and want to watch soccer in the stadium rather than on television,” Coppola said.
Vuma Mfeka, a retired soccer legend, said he was happy with an increase in the number of teams.
“This will reduce away matches. It will also create employment opportunities for KZN people. There are security companies who will get jobs, the vendors will also benefit, etc. In a nutshell, this is very big for KZN,” he said.
Mfeka said getting more fans for the Royal AM was entirely dependent on the new management, as the Bloem culture was diminished in KZN.
“They have to properly market the Royal AM. There should be relevance. Supporters should identify with the name of the team. The quality of football and the winning of matches will determine the number of supporters they get,” he said.
He added that they had people who supported football from a young age. People from Ulundi to Mahlabathini supported Usuthu FC, there was a sense of ownership, he said.
“Football creates jobs. We are against the closure of football in schools. The likes of Pitso Mosimane have become multi-millionaires through soccer alone,” he said.
He stressed a need for talent in football rather than players who were made by coaches.
“We had people like Jomo Sono, who were loved by fans all over the world because of their talent. When you look at Lionel Messi, you see that he has talent and the coach’s job is to channel that talent,” he said.
Former Manning Rangers chief executive Param Joseph said: “This is a big win for our city, and an excellent move for our province, well done to MaMkhize,” he said.
Joseph noted that it was unfortunate for the people of Bloemfontein and the fans.
He said people supported winning teams, so it was important to get one’s team right.