CAPE TOWN - Cape Town City’s brand strategy and social media approach are the envy of the PSL. It is one of the main reasons why they have rapidly infiltrated the awareness of football followers across the country. As City prepare to host Kaizer Chiefs in a PSL fixture at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday (3pm), City owner, John Comitis, gave some insight into how the club operates.
“Right from the start, the idea was to surround myself and the club with younger people, the techno-savvy kids,” said Comitis. “With this, we could hook into the millennial attitude and, here, bringing in my son, Michel, was very important. He studied marketing and economics in New York, and he was at the heart of all the research and planning that went into getting the club off to a good start.
“For us, it’s always important to have the right brand. Everything we do is studied and measured; we check every image, every word, before it goes into the public domain. Everything means something, even when we brand-build the players, and everything we do is cutting edge as we always try to be more innovative. Also, as a club, as a brand, we are never scared to say what we are doing - because we believe that honesty is appreciated.”
The secret to City’s success since their formation in 2016 can be summed up in one word: inclusivity. The vision of Comitis was to establish a club that everyone could feel part of.
“We want the club to be close to the community and we want Capetonians to feel a sense of pride in the brand,” said Comitis. “For us, there are no agendas, just the desire to play great football, to entertain and to give people a football club to be proud of; a club they can feel a part of. That inclusivity starts from the bottom up. We tap into the communities, the grassroots, with our Club 100 programme.
"It allows people to feel an affinity with the club - and this, in turn, makes City the aspirational target for players. For our Club 100 development programme, in which we also coach the coaches, we had 204 applications for the 100 spots, that’s how popular it has become. Over the two years the programme has been running, we have certified no less than 65 coaches. So, as you can see, there is a hard return in the programme; it’s not pie-in-the-sky, it is real.
“The dream for all young players with raw talent in Cape Town has become a reality, with an opportunity to develop into world class players. This development project is key, due to its inclusive nature, to allow as many young players to have a realistic platform to be identified and drafted into a PSL structure.
"In addition, it’s an opportunity for the clubs and communities to form a bond with City as a club. And with their structures linked to ours, we envisage tapping into that to build our fan base for the future. All in all, it’s part of our overall ethos to be an inclusive club, and the number one team in the Mother City.”
City are in their third season, but already they have secured a place in a cup final for the third time. City’s debut campaign resulted in a Telkom Knockout victory, last season they lost in the final of the MTN8 - and, now, they are through to the final of the MTN8 again, and scheduled to take on SuperSport United on September 29.
“I think what we are doing right is the fact that the management structure is flat - everybody has a say, everyone participates on a daily basis in making the club run smoothly,” said Comitis. “For us, there are two points of focus: one, the club must win because everyone loves a winner; and two, is that we place emphasis on being inclusive; we are backed by the community - and once you get that right, then everything else falls into place.”
The manner in which City have gone about their business has created an optimistic impression - and it’s why they have lured some high-profile names: like Benni McCarthy. Comitis views the former Bafana Bafana striker’s progress as a coach as a positive for the PSL.
“I think SA football is a lot better than what it is being given credit for,” said Comitis. “For one, the coaching is improving and you can see that in the fact that coaches are educating themselves. For example, Benni is Benni, but he has a Uefa Pro Licence. It’s also great to see that there is a new mix of young coaches in the PSL.”