This afternoon I went to the football (soccer for the Americans) game with Jake and his friend. This was the league championship game and everyone turned out for it. The local team, the Mbare Dynamos, was playing Kiglon. The Dynamos were the heavy favorite because Kiglon hasn’t been doing well this year. But the game was a big deal because the Dynamos were tied with FC Platinum for first place in the league. The Dynamos, who are also called the Glamour Boys (no joke!), are a local township team with little money but a lot of talent and heart. The Platinums are owned by a local mining company who spends a lot of money to buy the best players. There’s fierce competition between them because the Dynamos want to show that money can’t buy championships. Also, the Dynamos, or DeMbare (for Dynamos from Mbare) have 18 league championships and if they win one more they will break the record for league cups in all of Southern Africa. So it was a big game. Jake and I bought some flags on the way in to show our support.
When we got to the entrance line everyone started cheering like crazy! I thought some players were going by or some minister was sighted, but the crowd was cheering for us! They don’t get many white football fans there and everyone was so excited to see us. So many people came up to give us high fives. I felt like a celebrity.
We got there two hours before the game started and already the stadium was over half full. We opted for the “premium” seats which cost $5. That gets you a roof over your head so you are not exposed to the sun the whole time. The other seats cost $3. It’s definitely worth the extra money.
This video was taken 30 min before the game started. Note how crowded it already is!
There aren’t that many women football (soccer) fans: I would guess that more than 97% of the crowd was male.
The game started at 3 pm and was a bit slow to start. Jake’s friend who is from Zimbabwe and played professional football (soccer) in Swaziland for 6 years said the first 30 minutes were boring. I haven’t watched enough football to totally agree but it wasn’t a World Cup game for sure. Both teams missed a few good opportunities early on.
The stadium itself is pretty decent. We sat on concrete bleachers which were very hard, but we had great seats. The stadium fits 20,000-27,000 people, depending on how many they cram in and they certainly crammed them in! I shudder to think of the fire codes that were broken (I wonder if they even have fire codes in Zimbabwe). There’s no jumbo-tron or TV anywhere. There’s not even a score board or time clock that I could see. But there are a lot of fans and a lot of energy.
The Dynamos put on the heat near the end of the first half and scored just before the break! The crowd went nuts! Go DeMbare!
During the break some cheerleaders came out and did a dance but it wasn’t very exciting or entertaining, except for the women shaking their booties if you’re into that sort of thing.
The second half was more exciting and the Dynamos scored again with 20 minutes remaining, securing the win and the league cup. The crowds went wild at the goal and wilder still at the end of the game.
Then we see this helicopter flying in. I thought it was going to pass over the stadium, filming or something, but no! It landed on the field!
I thought it was the president arriving or something, there was so much fanfare. Out of the door two women appeared carrying a large silver cup: the league cup! Unbelievable! It was such a cool thing to see.
The workers took a long time to put together the stage for the award ceremony so we didn’t stick around for it. On our way back to the car I kept getting stopped by people wanting to shake hands with me. They were all talking a mile a minute in Shona and I had no idea what they were saying, but I think they were excited about the win. I became friends with half of Harare that afternoon. Everyone becomes related when their football team wins. It was a really cool experience that I’ll remember for a long time.