Football is about rivalry; the bigger the rivalry, the bigger the game, but the countryâ€™s old-age adversaries Big Bullets and Mighty Wanderers fans have put aside their rivalry for a common cause.
They have joined hands in an attempt to curb violence at their football matches next season.
Bullets new supporters committee chairperson Geoffrey Mbalati and his vocal Nomads counterpart Yona Green-Malunga on Wednesday said they have learnt a bitter lesson from the bans that were imposed on their respective teams last season and will work jointly in an effort to stop violence.
Mbalati, who was in the company of BBâ€™s supporters committee secretary Frank â€˜Nyauâ€™ Msiska, said at a time when the two teams are hunting for sponsorship, it is imperative that their supporters should work hand in hand to curb the malpractice.
Said Mbalati: “It is no secret that Bullets and Wanderers are the biggest teams in the land and they have the numbers in terms of following.
“However, we want this rivalry to be meaningful. Last season we were dealt a blow when our [respective] teams were banned from playing at the Kamuzu Stadium and we do not want that sort of thing to happen again in the forthcoming season.”
Acts of provocation
Mbalati and Malunga observed that one of the contributing factors to violent scenes are acts of provocation from either side.
Said Malunga: “You will note that even when Bullets are playing against another team, our fans still come to offer support to the other team and this leads to provocation.
“Now, what we are saying is that we should work together for the purpose of promoting civilised rivalry. There is no problem with ganyu, but it should be done in a proper manner.
“This is a crucial time when both teams are negotiating for sponsorship and it is therefore important that we should not be associated with acts of violence as no prospective sponsor would want to be associated with violence,” Malunga said.
Malunga also said there are times when fans from both teams yell insults at national football coach Kinnah Phiri and FAM president Walter Nyamilandu because of their past affinity with Bullets and Wanderers respectively.
“It is no secret that Kinnah is associated with Bullets and Walter played and managed Wanderers, but the fans need to understand that the two now hold national positions and need to be respected as such,” Malunga said.
He said as a starting point, they will come up with a joint committee to civic educate the fans from both sides on the need for civilised rivalry.
“Weâ€™ll be reaching out to the fans through the zones,” he said.
Last season, the Nomads were banned from playing at the Kamuzu Stadium for causing violence during their league game against Red Lions. The Bullets were also handed a similar ban following acts of violence during their game against Blantyre United.
The two teams were both fined, but government ordered both teams not to pay for the damages that were caused at the stadium because of their influence in public.