In the modern game, club PRO's are a vital cog of every team, providing a link between the public and the media to the club itself.
One such man is Dennis Tshabalala, who has been at Wits for more than ten years.
In the mid 90`s, the man known then as 'Shabs' was helping the then coach, John Lathan, with running of the University internal soccer league, but now he has now turned his attention to performing his duties at the club's PRO.
SA Soccer 365 `s Patrick Zikalala caught up with Tshabalala at Bidvest Stadium after their game against Black Leopard on Saturday night.
Patrick Zikalala (PZ) : Baba, are you the PRO or the Corporate Affairs Manager?
Dennis Tshabalala : I actually do not mind being called PRO, as I believe it is not the name but the work you do that matters.
PZ : What is actually your job as a PRO?
Tshabalala : It is to communicate between the club, fans and media and to also recruit more supporters for the team.
PZ : You have been a PRO for quiet some time now, but we do not see much improvement attendance-wise, Why?
Tshabalala : Actually there has been a significance improvement, attendance wise especially from the Students' side.
PZ : In your opinion, what is it that keeps fans away from the stadium.
Tshabalala : It is actually a lot of things. One, fans may not be happy about the type of football the team plays, two, they may find the time games are played be not convenient for them and also it is a question of tastes and preferences on the fans side.
PZ : One may argue that you guys have a rich history and as a PRO, you should not have much problems in recruiting members or supporters for the team, Your thoughts?
Tshabalala : As Bidvest Wits we have produced great players and indeed legends of SA football and we are very proud of that, but again it is not about what we did in the past, it is what we are doing now that counts.
PZ : How is your relationship with other PRO`s like Putco Mafani, Mickey Modisane and Alex Shakoane?
Tshabalala : It is very good.
PZ : Do you guys hang around often to share ideas or give each other tips?
Tshabalala : Only with Putco - we do hang around and share ideas together.
PZ : Most of you guys, the PRO`s, always blame the media for not promoting the teams and the game as such, what is it that the media must do to promote the game?
Tshabalala :The media shapes up the way the fans think, so it is important for the media to always tell the truth and promote all the teams equally. You guys must sell all the games to the people equally and not concentrate on the so-called big teams.
For example if we are announcing a sponsorship, it will only be two lines printed, but for the so-called big team it is a full page. Take a derby, the Chiefs-Pirates clash, for instance, three to four weeks before the game it is already being marketed. Why cant you guys do the same with other teams? I want to see a Wits-Arrows or whoever clash being marketed or promoted in the same way.
PZ : As a PRO, what are your short term and long term plans?
Tshabalala : Short term plans are to promote the Wits brand in a 30 kilometre radius while long term is promoting the brand nationally.
PZ : Having been at Wits for more than ten years, have you ever recommended a player or a student from the internal league to the Wits first team.
Tshabalala : If ever there is a good player that I know of, we always make the coach aware and it all depends on him if he signs the player.
PZ : Since taking over have you brought any changes?
Tshabalala : Yes a lot, and now I am working on putting the Wits replica jerseys on the market. Right now we have our replica jerseys being sold at MJ Sports shop and it is a matter of time before being available at national sports shops.
PZ : Looking back from the time you started, would you say your tenure as a PRO has been a success?
Tshabalala : As a human being, one is never fully satisfied as no matter how much we strive there will be those things that one will never be satisfied about. But all in all, so far, so good.
PZ : Your thoughts about the Absa cup draw?
Tshabalala : It is a good draw and we are happy about it as it is a good test of character for the Clever Boys. For us to win this cup we have to beat the best.
PZ : Your last word to the Wits fans.
Tshabalala : Please guys, keep supporting the team, and always come in numbers to our games. I know the results are not forthcoming but that is the time when we need their support the most.
PZ : Thanks, baba and good luck for the Absa cup game against Chiefs.
Tshabalala : Thank you and keep up the good work you `re doing!