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Peter Mokaba Stadium - Polokwane

Phillip’s Gone

by Morrel Shilenge / 07.02.2011

“What is Polokwane going to do with the stadium after the World Cup?”
It’s only after 6 months later and at the Peter Mokoba Stadium reality has started kicking in. The stadium only hosted 4 group matches during the World Cup. The old Peter Mokaba Stadium, before the refurbishment had rarely ever seen a capacity crowd, and the new one continued that legacy. Even during the World Cup, Peter Mokaba was never filled to its capacity of 45 000. Why was so much money spent on it? How much did the 4 group games generate for Polokwane?

Yes, we are left with a beautiful precinct. New roads and brighter street lights. But now Philip (Feeeleeep!) has left. There is no trace of him. Phillip gave us hope. A month of nation building. But surely we could have spent the money better.

And now, I’m back at Peter Mokaba, my first time at a PSL soccer game. I was never a soccer fan before Phillip. I’m still not. When I was growing up, I occasionally watched the derby between Chiefs and Pirates. More for the sake of not looking like a misfit in a soccer mad society. I don’t have a favorite team, that when they win I cheer from the heart and when they lose I don’t eat for days. Soccer fans do that. Nowadays I don’t even watch the derby. And when Phillip was in town, I just went to one game for the sake of my little brother. To me, it made no difference. I went to check the vibe and document the occasion.

Peter Mokaba Stadium - Polokwane

But then last week I decided to go watch a game at Peter Mokoba Stadium just to gauge the post World Cup soccer vibes. I thought that it would give me a different perspective and get me insight into the minds of South African fans. I had never seen a PSL game live before. Like Phillip. I wanted to feel it again.

Soccer fans are loud, and love beer. When they get drunk, they chant gospel songs… Within minutes of the experience. I was bored. I couldn’t take it. But I forced myself to stay. I started thinking and looking at the people in the stadium like they were species from another planet. The stadium was not even half full. Less than 20 000 people had turned out. It’s hard not to ask why they didn’t just renovate the old stadium next door? Maybe it was a show off to FIFA. But someone definitely back-pocketed from this. Prove me wrong. You have two stadiums in close proximity and not even a provincial PSL soccer team… not to mention the monthly maintenance bills. Who pays for all of this? You and me of course. The jobs created. Short-term. Most of them evaporated with the last batch of tourists. Where is the accountability? Nobody is talking. Eish! The South African government mara. No Accountability. Thankfully local government elections are around the corner.

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