By Bongani Ndlovu
When African football giants Orlando Pirates rolled into Bulawayo for their Caf Champions League Group B match against FC Platinum no one thought the game would be oversubscribed with other fans being turned away.
Barbourfields Stadium proved too small a venue to accommodate fans as thousands were turned away on Saturday, but this spelt more business for shebeens and bottle stores surrounding the home of football.
Although watching the match from shebeens is not the same experience as being in the stadium, those unfortunate supporters who failed to find their way to the BF terraces found solace in watching the game while downing their favourite social lubricants.
Some were drinking their booze and dancing to music from their cars, making fun of the whole situation.
The New Emagumeni Sports Bar was packed and inside it was hot and humid, while outside there were groups of women selling isitshwala with chicken, inhloko, beef and pork. All meals were pegged at $2 bond note which is much cheaper as most established outlets sell it for anything above $4.
One of the women who identified herself as MaPhiri said she had never experienced such business during local football matches.
“I’ve been here since morning and people have been coming to buy food here. Bosso holds home matches and even when they play Dynamos, I haven’t had so much business in one day. I’m pleased with the money I made,” said MaPhiri.
She however said power cuts nearly spoilt her day.
“I buy meat from the butchery here, but because there was no electricity, they couldn’t weigh the meat for me to buy. I had to run around and luckily electricity was switched back on. I thought I’d lost business,” said MaPhiri.
Shebeens in Barbourfields also cashed in as the game was being beamed live on DStv’s SuperSport 4.
Those who failed to enter went on a hunt to find these watering holes to find out if they were showing the game.
Quickly some ingenious shebeen owners advertised that they had live feed of the game and that drove traffic to their homes.
At one such shebeen, fans clad in black and white and Orlando Pirates regalia with one or two in FC Platinum’s watched in unison. The price of alcohol was $4 for a quart of either Castle Lager, Zambezi Lager or Black Label Beer.
When the match ended nil all, other fans started to trickle into the drinking spots.
Most Orlando Pirates fans, who are really Highlanders FC fans were crestfallen and could not believe that arguably Southern Africa’s most successful team in the African Champions League had been held by FC Platinum.
Others were naturally elated that Pure Platinum Play displayed their pedigree and that they were no pushovers and made a proud statement for Zimbabwean football.
One of the host shebeen owners said the situation could have been more interesting if Sea Robbers had won the match.
“If Pirates had won, I tell you that this shebeen would be full with people celebrating. But I didn’t anticipate people to come in the afternoon to watch the match. It was a blessing in disguise for me. I made the money and much more,” said the shebeen owner who declined to be named.
It was a party atmosphere thereafter with predominantly music from the late Dan Tshanda’s Dalom stable, Soul Brothers and Zimdancehall. What was pleasing to note was the friendliness of every reveller which proved that shebeens are the ideal place to have clean fun. The Chronicle