How to bring back the fans

Two weeks ago, I wrote saying that ‘hooligans’ should be embraced rather than thrown out with the bath water. My argument was that their emotional investment is a reflection of renewed interest in the local game that should be harnessed rather than frowned upon.
I don’t however suggest that football becomes a representation of mob behaviour as that would have the net effect of turning away good-natured fans. Contrary to that I would like that local football starts to build the foundation upon which the number of people attending games grows sustainably and here is how.

First of all we need to ask ourselves who is local footballs’ target market? That would have to be the huge youthful population of this country. Next, who competes with football for this market-who can football learn from? And the answer lies away from sports, in entertainments’ fastest growing industry – music.
I aise anyone aiming to attract a paying audience right now to look no further than the monthly gatherings that take place at the Museum ground in Kamwokya.
Blankets and wines is a picnic style monthly event at which audiences armed with camp chairs blankets and hampers full of alcohol sit down on lazy Sundays to listen to local pop stars. This increasingly pompous pastime is the height of how a good marketing strategy can turn just about anything into a crowd puller and the Shs50,000 entrance-fee is 10 times what football is capable of commanding.
And the media is hooked on and investing acres of space trying to have all of us fall in love with the event. It has quickly become part of a social agenda and is seen as an upstanding pass-time enjoyed by the upwardly mobile crowd.
We could argue that it is a collection point of corporate types and owners of big hats, but that would be to miss the point. I doubt that the Blankets and Wines ever set out to sell sophistication, but they have managed to collect happy people (the market) in one area.

And this is the point football has to pick up. Football is in a way just another form of entertainment and if it wants fans paying fans to sit on those terraces, quality entertainment had better be on the menu.
Football therefore needs to profile the psycho-graphics of its fans. What gets their juices flowing (cheer leaders or pop stars), what do they consider cool (Friday nights?), what time do they have available for entertainment, how much are they willing to spend on entertainment (price accordingly).
This will not lock out the everyday-fan and I dismiss the argument that football is for the less cultured and suspect it’s aanced by those stuck in old consumption habits. New habits reflect a wide range of choice and information. Fans therefore expect value for money and things like entertainment, security, sanitation, access and family-friendly environments –all of which Blankets and Wines delivers, can’t be taken for granted.
Of course I don’t expect ladies in hats to turn up at Namboole, goggles bottles and toddlers in tow, yet. But I am confident that meeting the ever shifting expectations of today’s market is the path football needs to take. Its inherent popularity will take care of the rest.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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