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MASANDAWANAROOTING FOR THE TEAMIN THE MIDST OF THE PANDEMICAuthor: Dumisani KoyanaThe popular saying 'out of sight, out of mind' does not apply to the Mamelodi Sundowns supporters. Understandably, the past fifteen months have been tough for the Yellow Nation. The absence of drumming in the stands, the chanting of songs, the dance steps and the cheering has left a huge void on match days. With the crowd restrictions still in place, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Masandawana have had to support the team from the comfort of their homes via television and social media. Every footballer will tell you the importance of ‘the twelfth man’, and Mamelodi Sundowns supporters are known for their undying passion and the ability to rally behind the team during the tough times and the joyful ones. Lesego Mabena, National Chairperson of the supporters, takes us through what they have been facing in recent times due to their inability to support their team on game day. “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the globe. Supporters have had to adapt to the new normal, which is to watch games from home. Even though we have been faced with these difficult circumstances, Masandawana have taken on a positive attitude and have used alternative methods (under the strict observation and protocols as set out by the government) to continue to support the Brazilians. At each game, we created a guard of honour in the streets and near the routes leading to the stadium; we also utilized social media to send messages of support to the team which certainly boosted the players’ morale”.
The Brazilians have been top of their game for the past eight years. During that period, the team won the 2016 CAF Champions League and recently became the first team to win the domestic league four times in a row. Speaking on the joy of the supporters with regards to these recent successes, Mabena excitedly expressed that, “One cannot describe this kind of feeling. I can only say it’s been joy and happiness all the way. We shed tears of joy, not only did we win the fourth league title, but we became the first team to win the title under the new sponsorship of DSTV. The feeling that we got is of extreme happiness, WE LEAD THEY FOLLOW. It means a lot because Mamelodi Sundowns gives us bragging rights. Not only is the team dominant on the field of play, the trophy cabinet bears testament to our success. As supporters, we are proud to wear our Sundowns attire every day.”
When asked about her favourite moment from the past season, Mabena responded passionately, “it was the away match against Stellenbosch when Gaston Sirino equalized and Peter Shalulile scored the winning goal in the dying minutes of the game! One cannot forget that moment, I even thought I was dreaming.” Though it may be unusual to play without the Yellow Nation in the stands during match days, the well-being of all citizens remains a priority. The continued support through various means has been commended and truly appreciated during these trying times.
We must continue to stay safe, get vaccinated and follow COVID protocols to ensure we are allowed to enjoy the beautiful game at stadiums once again. “Phakamisa uSeven Yellow Nation”