The Sunday News
Ngqwele Dube, Sports Correspondent
THE pending end of the Highlanders sponsorship deal with NetOne has once again raised fears within the Bosso family on the continued survival of the club with some calling on the side’s multitude of supporters to stand up and be counted at this critical juncture.
United Kingdom-based Highlanders member, Ezra Sibanda, who has previously been at the forefront of fundraising for the club, said there was no better time for Bosso supporters to show their affection for the club through contributing towards its sustenance.
He said while fans have been quick to head to social media to condemn the club’s struggles and any mishappenings, they should use the same robustness to come out and help the club survive these trying times.
Sibanda said it was pointless for fans to feel proud of being owners of the club when they are unable to bail it out during tough times.
“It is time to stop talking and we start acting, we can’t always keep on saying ‘ngeyethu’ (it’s ours) when we fail to finance it when it matters most, I think if more than 5 000 fans contribute between US$2-US$5 a month it would go a long way towards alleviating the club’s woes.
“Highlanders has a huge fan base scattered all over the world and I feel if we make monthly contributions, we can give the executive the leeway to search for a sponsorship package that will suit the interests of the club.”
His view is that people may raise questions over accountability or say it is the executive’s responsibility to seek funding or that they give the club money through gate takings, what mattered was ensuring Bosso remain afloat.
Sibanda said having previously crowd-funded for Bosso he believes accountability can be closely monitored.
“You cannot talk of supporting Bosso through gate takings when we all know that Bosso only gets just a fraction of that income with some money going to the police, city council, Premier Soccer League, Sport and Recreation Commission and Zifa. This is a point where you don’t throw the responsibility to the executive but take it upon ourselves as supporters and members to take the lead,” he said.
Well known Highlanders supporter, Duduzo “Teekay” Sibanda echoed Sibanda’s sentiments saying action from supporters could drastically change the club’s financial outlook and positively impact on the club’s search for a championship title in 14 years.
A Bosso benefactor, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the lockdown presented the Highlanders family with an opportunity to introspect and see how they could change their operations for the better going forward.
He said turning fans into members was one of the critical areas that needed to be implemented to ensure there are more annual subscriptions coming into the club, adding that the life membership in its current form should be phased out as it was not contributing to the survival of the club financially.
“It is up to both the executive and the fans to come and increase the membership register. Fans should proactively go and buy membership cards while the executive comes up with efforts to woo fans to upgrade and become members.
“We also need to come up with various membership classes while phasing out the life membership in its current form to ensure that the bulk of the members pay an annual fee at the beginning of each year.
“For a team that consistently fills up Barbourfields it is a shame we continually attracting less than 500 members at meetings,” he said.
The benefactor added that it was critical for members to become more involved in club affairs rather than seek to make input during election time only. He said creating new income streams was also critical at this juncture with merchandise and online revenue being some of the boons.