Guest blog written by Constantinos Charalambides, passionate footballer and sports management student (Kenneth Cortsen, ed.). Constantinos is a professional football player and team captain at APOEL FC and the Cyprus national team. He loves his job and he loves training in order to become better and better and also finds joy in highlighting new ideas about fitness and coaching. He is the proud husband of a lovely wife and father of amazing twin girls. Visit his blog, click here.
These past few days, many thoughts and questions passed through my mind.
What does tomorrow hold for football? How can football – both inside and outside of a country like Cyprus – show real signs of progress? What are the prospects for development and advancement for our clubs and our leagues?
I began seeing some answers come to light in Wales during our last Euro 2016 qualifier. The festivities amazed me, e.g. how the fans had turned up to be entertained and to not simply await the result.
First, the atmosphere at the stadium allowed each fan to feel that they were somehow part of that whole spectrum of entertainment – whether it was through commercials, screens showing highlights or music. Fans, who were willing participants to the evening’s entertainment, were also granted Internet access. Why is that important? Well, because most young people today steer clear of grounds where they can’t have access to the Internet so that they can upload pictures on social media networks.
This begs another question. How has UEFA managed to raise the bar of the Champions League to such a high level? The answer is simple: it presents a football game as a theater of entertainment, opposed to a simple match-up between two opposing teams.
During our game against Wales, the Welsh FA was calling on fans to tweet #togetherstronger or post that slogan on the national side’s Facebook page. From the terraces, advertising boards could be seen rotating that same slogan in an effort to bring fans closer together. To urge them to become more involved in that arena of entertainment and perhaps, maybe subconsciously, to offer them a product that could perhaps outweigh the result of the game itself.
In the United States, the biggest ‘wow factor’ about the NBA and the NFL is the entertainment it offers! Whether it’s through mascots, music or the giant screens, there is a clear objective, i.e. to offer entertainment and a lifetime experience to all those in attendance. Those spectators have the chance to both give and take from that arena of entertainment. It is that kind of interaction that is the secret to that success. From my point of view, it makes me very proud to look up at the stands and see the smiling faces of parents and their children enjoying a great experience regardless of the result.
So what does the future hold for our sports arenas? Well, all teams need to bring those fans closer together through various methods, e.g. social media. To put more emphasis on the idea of free Internet at our sports grounds and to focus on the entertainment value as seen in UEFA and FIFA backed games.
Let’s bring back mascots to our stadiums and make our fans more involved during a game. Let’s make our beautiful game even more beautiful. Imagine what that could do in luring more fans to our stadiums?
Imagine how that could contribute towards diminishing fanaticism and criminal behavior at our stadiums. Imagine how much more joy that would bring to fans. But above all, imagine how many teams would benefit financially from such a new outlook for our football?
These are thoughts that need to be put into action if we are ever to talk about what tomorrow holds for our football.
*Pictures is published by the courtesy of Constantinos Charalambides.