Fungai Muderere, Senior Sports Reporter
THE launch of an online store by Premier Soccer League (PSL) outfit Bulawayo Chiefs in a bid to grow their brand beyond the country’s borders has posed huge challenges to other local clubs.
The PSL’s Twitter Kings launched their online shop on Tuesday night to service the club’s followers around the world.
Chiefs have been trendsetters on the digital platform, as they were the first club to have its Twitter handle verified two years ago, edging the PSL old guard of Dynamos, Highlanders and Caps United.
They have the largest following on Twitter with over 32 000 due to their savvy tweets despite the team actually struggling in the domestic Premiership.
Supporters and sympathisers of Bulawayo Chiefs can now order the club’s merchandise online.
Available for the local market are replica jerseys priced at $2 500, golf shirts ($1 875) as well as T-shirts with catchy inscriptions such as “Anjalo Ama Sports”, “Ebhoreni Akula John Cena” that have become the club’s punchline on Twitter which are going for $1 000.
The Diaspora market can purchase the club’s replica jerseys for US$30 each.
Talent scout and performance analyst Kudzai Chitima said Chiefs’ latest move should serve as an eye opener for Zimbabwean clubs to convert their brands into income.
“It’s all about choosing the right, qualified people with a burning passion, clear vision and grit to cut it. It’s an eye opener for Zimbabwean clubs. Start with what you have,” Chitima tweeted.
His sentiments were echoed by a Highlanders’ fan Sabelo Sihwa, who urged local football clubs to be innovative instead of continuously complaining about the economic environment they are operating in.
“It’s my hope that all PSL clubs have learnt a valuable lesson from Chiefs. There is need to work with what you have,” Sihwa said.
Caps United fan Teveraishe Mumvuri was left green with envy after the Bulawayo Chiefs latest initiative.
“To be honest I’m feeling a bit jealous. Well done Chiefs. This is a clear sign of a very professional administration,” said Mumvuri.
If Chiefs’ popularity on Twitter translates to purchases on their online store, the club could take in meaningful revenue at a time most local teams are reeling from financial strain caused by the Covid-19 lockdown.
The 2020 season should have started at the end of March and with the majority of local teams reliant on gate-takings for their day-to-day running, the prolonged inactivity has placed them in deep financial difficulties.
Caps United players almost manhandled club vice-president Nhamo Tutisani at his offices in Harare recently after a fallout over unpaid salaries.
Highlanders, who were ditched by their principal sponsor NetOne, have taken out their begging bowl in a bid to stay afloat awaiting the start of the 2020 season. — @FungaiMuderere