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Bulawayo fans caught in between stumps and goal posts as soccer, cricket clash

by Staff reporter
01 Jul 2023 at 03:00hrs | Views
BULAWAYO finds itself in a perplexing situation this Sunday as two major sporting events vie for the attention of passionate sports fans.

The clash is not just between different sports but also between loyalty and patriotism. The city is divided and the decision of which event to attend has become a conundrum for  sport-loving people in Bulawayo.

On one hand, the national cricket team, the Chevrons, prepare to host Sri Lanka in a crucial ICC World Cup Qualifier encounter at Queens Sports Club.

With the opportunity to witness the highly-respected Sri Lankan team, this match becomes a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for local cricket fanatics.

Supporting the Chevrons in their fight against the Lions holds tremendous significance as victory means Zimbabwe qualifies for the World Cup to be held in India later this year.

On the other side of town, at Barbourfields Stadium, the Castle Lager Premiership's top sides, CAPS United and Highlanders, prepare for a highly anticipated clash.

This "made-up derby" ignites the passion of football enthusiasts, who seek to experience the thrill of the beautiful game and witness the battle for bragging rights among the city's teams.

Makepekepe playing their first home game at BF only adds to the excitement, making it an event not to be missed.

It is undeniably a Super Sunday and the citizens of Bulawayo find themselves in a dilemma regarding where to go.

The geographical proximity of the two venues, with Queens Sports Club merely 3,2 kilometres away from Barbourfields Stadium, adds to the complexity of the decision-making process.

Cricket, often referred to as the gentlemen's game, starts in the morning and concludes in the afternoon while football, the "world's most beautiful game," lasts  90 minutes, filled with edge-of-the-seat action.

At both stages, history is in the making within the most followed sporting disciplines in the country. This choice becomes even more significant for the sports lovers in Bulawayo.

Should they spend the morning at Queens and then rush to BF after 2pm? Is it an impossible task or can it be managed?

Alternatively, some may opt to stay at Queens Sports Club throughout the day, immersing themselves in the atmosphere of international cricket and the unique social experience it offers.

In the past, the choice would have been simpler, with Barbourfields Stadium being the obvious destination.

However, the landscape has changed in recent years and cricket is gradually closing in on football as Zimbabwe's most popular sport.

The packaging of cricket as a product, particularly international matches, has been consummate, captivating the attention of fans.

The local league games may not have the same traction but the allure of international cricket at Queens Sports Club has grown exponentially.

One of the factors contributing to the dwindling number of fans at football matches in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) is the failure to create an ultimate experience beyond the main match.

In contrast, cricket matches at Queens Sports Club have transformed into an atmospheric spectacle that entices even those who may not fully understand the sport itself.

The vibe, the social ambiance and the overall experience at Queens have become irresistible.

Whenever the Chevrons grace the stadium, a Fear-Of-Missing-Out (FOMO) takes hold of many around the city, making it the place to be in Bulawayo.

Thousands of fans rally behind their beloved team, turning a sport once deemed "boring" into one of the most followed in the country.

It's not just the singing and the electric atmosphere that draw fans to the cricket stadiums but also the family-friendly vibe that allows people to relax and have fun while enjoying the game.

Attendees are encouraged to bring their camp chairs, braai stands, and cooler boxes, creating a festive atmosphere.

The electrifying ambiance adds to the charm of the event, making it an experience like no other.

The reputation of Queens Sports Club has garnered attention even from international sources. Irish commentator Andrew Leonard described the atmosphere in Zimbabwe as "the best atmosphere he has ever seen at an international match." Such praises speak volumes about the incredible energy and passion that fills the stadium during cricket matches.

Interestingly, during the cricket World Cup Qualifiers, Saturday Chronicle noticed a significant number of known football fanatics becoming regular attendees at cricket matches.

This shift in allegiance showcases the growing appeal of cricket and the impact it has had on the sporting landscape of Bulawayo.

To gain insights into the plans of the sports lovers in Bulawayo, we approached a few individuals who are known supporters of various teams.

Themba Siziba, a passionate Highlanders FC fan, expressed his dilemma.

"I cannot afford to miss either of the two events. The best thing to do would be to leave for Barbourfields Stadium at midday.

As a sports-loving person, I believe it's a special day with two significant events."

Siziba's enthusiasm for both cricket and football highlights the challenging decision many face.

Randy Matsikidze, another avid sports lover, echoed Siziba's sentiment, stressing the magnitude of the football match.

"The importance of the game makes it difficult not to attend. If it were any other match, I would have chosen cricket all day."

Matsikidze's words reflect the internal struggle faced by individuals torn between their love for cricket and the allure of the football match.

On the other hand, Nqobani Nkala passionately stated: "For me, it's cricket all the way. Plenty of football matches are on their way in Bulawayo.

This is international cricket, and it does not come every day."

Nkala's unwavering dedication to cricket showcases the impact and significance of international matches, which have managed to capture the attention of even those who may not typically follow the sport.

Trust Jim, a popular Dynamos fan, shared a different perspective, underlining the importance of football.

"Football comes first. Although my team is not playing, I will head to Barbourfields Stadium. We attend cricket matches because there are no other activities, especially football."

As the dilemma lingers, the choice between attending Queens Sports Club or Barbourfields Stadium remains a personal decision.

The clash between these two major events highlights the passion and devotion of the city's sports lovers. Whether it's the allure of international cricket or the excitement of a local football derby, it remains a fact that residents of Bulawayo this Sunday have very exciting sporting options.

PSL Fixtures

Bulawayo Chiefs v Green Fuel (Luveve Stadium), Manica Diamonds v Sheasham (Gibbo), FC Platinum v Chicken Inn (Mandava), Ngezi Platinum Stars v Hwange FC (Baobab Stadium). ZPC Kariba v Yadah (Nyamhunga Stadium)

Black Rhinos v Dynamos (Bata), Caps United FC v Highlanders FC (Barbourfields Stadium), Triangle United v Cranborne Bullets FC (Gibbo Stadium), Herentals College v Simba Bhora (Mandava Stadium)

Source - The Chronicle
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