HomeGround, the dual genre presentation on Mzansi Magic/ SuperSport slaps differently when you trod the ground at home. Although home may be a township in another province outside the labour-intensive milieu of Gauteng, it offers a reprieve – a chance to look upon television programming without a social media gaze.
The title of the show is innocuous and does not require a second thought. But home ground, which borrows extensively from soccer matches in the hood, means that when we play a match ekasi we control most things, including the outcome on the field on some occasions.
As a team with home ground advantage, this means we choose the referee, keep the clock and the money we bet for the game. It is not uncommon for us kubejunula (rescind the bet) when things are not going our way on the field. We could be losing the game by a huge margin, and if there is one disputed call, we scream and holler and resort to suspending the game to resolve the impasse.
We take back our money and give them theirs, much to the visiting team’s horror. Daylight robbery. Sometimes our timekeeper manipulates the time to give us extra time if we need to score an equalising goal in a tight encounter. There are no phones and ours was the only official time as far as we were concerned.
Home ground advantage means that even if the visitors want to mount a physical challenge in protest of our uncouth shenanigans, they soon realise that they are outnumbered as we have our players, supporters and community at large behind us.
One team, however, after retreating with their tail between their legs after one of our hometown chicaneries leaves silently. The next day we’ll wake up to our field trashed, our make-shift wooden goalposts bound by ropes broken down and chopped into little pieces. They even leave a handwritten note under a brick swearing at us.
Football isn’t the only mark of township life. Kwaito can always be heard in the background from far and near. Its sound permeates the blistering sun rays of Nkowankowa, providing the soundtrack for a country searching for its identity. After our dusty dustups, we retreat into our homes in the late afternoon, emerge transformed from rusty crusty minions into swanky gentlemen, with shirts and t-shirts tucked in and hair combed. This is the ritual as we head into the taverns, one of the only places (other than the church) that young men honour with fine dress.
HomeGround, in more ways than one, is an ode to the familiar presented on screen. The marriage of sport and lifestyle is the quotidian activity of our lives – and not a separate entity. The show is seamless and natural, assisted with its flexibility in terms of format and presenters.
On any given Monday night, one never knows who the host will be. It could be Lungile ‘Lungstar’ Radu and Fisto Mazibuko, or Minnie Dlamini or Lindiwe Dube. A rarity not easily found in South African television.
While at home during the festive break, HomeGround was a reminder of home.
The show inscribes viewers into the works of the day’s popular culture stars while recalling the best plays of the weekend. The synergy takes precedence over format and seems as natural as playing soccer during the day and hugging quarts on the dancefloor in the evening. An extension of life.
- Check out episodes of HomeGround on DStv Catch Up