Football in South Africa: The Home of the Vuvuzela

Taken from The Guardian

My name is Levi Webb. I am a Gooner from Johannesburg, South Africa.

I have been a football fanatic all my life. Living on the continent of Africa creates expectations regarding many sports, but just like Europe, football (known as Soccer in Africa) is the most popular sport amongst our diverse nation.

Unlike other many countries in Africa, South Africa is lucky enough to have a well-developed football foundation with many clubs and stadiums in suburbs for the youth, although these clubs often require a large admission and monthly registration fee’s. 

With a poor economy, parents cannot afford to send their children to these expensive clubs. Initially, these kids gather around public parks (regardless of the clubs they support) and play football till the sun goes down.

The older I get the more differences between being a football fan in South Africa and being a football fan in Europe occur, here we have our local football (Absa Premiership) with two extremely dominant rivals – Kaizer Chiefs  and Orlando Pirates, commonly known as the Soweto derby.

Taken from Madala

This Johannesburg derby has always been fiercely contested but unfortunately it’s the only match where us fans can fill a stadium, where as international teams coming over for friendly matches or even the FIFA 2010 World Cup interests the locals because of the quality of teams and players.

The majority of football fans in SA consider their first teams to be either from the English Premier League, Serie A or La Liga. Most people can speak the lingo too, but only a hand full of fans can have a decent conversation about local football. 

It’s rather confusing having local fans enjoying international football rather than their home grown talent, but it’s not surprising, considering the quality of the league. Prices for games are undeniably cheap but transport is not up to scratch. When night falls, you need to have your own car or other sources of personal transport to get home from the stadiums.

As a Gooner in South Africa (Arsenal supporter) I find it difficult to enjoy the local football. Sources for news on anything regarding clubs or transfers often come from only one source– Kick Off , and just like all ITK’S, not emphatically reliable. So we have to actually wait for the club to make any official announcements.

Most poverty stricken continents rely on football when they feel they have had enough, its always great knowing you can enjoy yourself playing the beautiful game.  Street football becomes popular in the streets of Johannesburg ,to shibobo means to nutmeg or panna a player. Typical football lingo.

I always question football fans here, many of them don’t even know their bitter rivals, according to South African United fans, Barcelona is their city rivals and to South African Arsenal fans, their city rivals are United. So I try my best to remind them why we hate Tottenham and the little Spuds.

As a fellow African it is splendid to see players from Africa playing all over the world, contributing to the beautiful game.

Written by Levi Webb
Follow me on Twitter @ArsenalSouthAfr

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