Cape Town – A supporter is a person who approves of and encourages a public figure, a political party or policy. And, when it comes to sport, this person is actively interested in, and wishes success on, their chosen team or athlete.
This is not what Orlando Pirates supporters have been doing for striker Thamsanqa Gabuza.
I don't condone Gabuza's behaviour; it must be condemned in the strongest terms. But as much as I disagree with his conduct, I really feel for him.
Being rejected by your own supporters is discouraging and heart-breaking. Missed chances or not, it must be the most horrible feeling for any player to be resented the way he is. That is not how football should be.
Gabuza is human, has feelings and can react to all the treatment he has been subjected to. He must be hurting and be feeling very emotional. He has a family, kids and friends. No one should be subjected to what he has been through.
His is a sad story and I don't know why people are making a joke out of this. He has been the subject of taunts on social media and has been ridiculed, called names and condemned by everyone. Just pause for a moment, put yourself in his shoes and consider how you would have responded.
I have seen Gabuza at his best and I know what he is capable of – he works hard for the team and gives of his best.
I am one of those who don't judge a striker by the number of goals they score, but rather on their overall contribution to the game. The game has transformed so much that scoring goals is not only the responsibility of strikers.
I have seen Gandaganda, as he is known in some circles, bulldozing defenders and creating space for his team-mates to score goals.
I have also seen him put his body on the line at the other end of the field, defending – particularly in set pieces – when he is called on to do so.
To me, he is an all-rounder who should be used effectively by coaches, who know what he is capable of.
No player goes on the field to deliberately miss chances or cost his team the game. I'm sure he will be the first to admit that things have not been going well for him, having suffered endless misses.
But that should not be a licence for them to go in for the kill. This is like kicking a man when he is down. All he needs is encouragement from his supporters. What they are doing now is playing into the opposition's hands by condemning him even more.
This is a serious matter. Imagine being trashed by your own supporters. He has lost confidence because they are giving him negative energy. Why destroy one of your own?
Unfortunately, most of those who are condemning him have never played the game and have no idea what being in the mix of things is all about. They are just armchair critics voicing their opinions, thinking they know better.
The problem is exacerbated by ill-informed commentators and analysts in particular. Our analysts are always too critical of players. It's as if they have never played the game. And, often, there is hardly anything good they see in the players. Often, they seem to only criticise them. Some of them forget that they were not the best during their playing days.
If anything, Gabuza's response shows a lack of maturity, intelligence and character. He has exposed his weaknesses and has opened himself up for more abuse. The sooner he realises that football is not for the faint-hearted, the better. He needs to develop a thick skin.
The only way to silence your supporters is to give them what they want – goals, not the middle finger.
Gabuza is not the only one who's had to deal with this: the likes of Philemon Masinga, Daniel "Mambush" Mudau and, recently, Kingston Nkhatha have all been targets for the boo brigade.
Yes, he overreacted and went overboard, but, to me, he still has a lot to offer the Buccaneers. All he needs now is backing from the Ghost supporters. He knows he can do much better than his current returns.
Ngwana phosa dira ga a bolawe.