Africa, consisting of 56 countries and upwards of 1 billion people, is famous for its visually stunning rural landscapes and the traditional, colourful culture. In recent decades however, there is another, innovative element to many African’s lives: football. The ‘beautiful game’ has brought the vast variety of people, from up and down the continent, together as one.
Therefore it is almost inevitable and unsurprising that some heart-warming, unique and special stories have emerged from Africa’s unique take on the sport.
When flicking through tales and stories from the continent, there is one from Sierra Leone that catches the eye. In the previously war-torn country, inhumane violence meant that ex-militants and civilians were living without limbs. However, pictures of the Sierra Leone Amputee Sports Club show, miraculously, men without legs or arms thoroughly enjoying a game of football, regardless of their disadvantages.
South Africa, a country known by many for infamous reasons, have conducted their own turnaround and are continuing to do so as you read this. Given that Apartheid was occurring throughout the country not 20 years ago, hosting a world cup was extra special for the Bafana Bafana (the national team) as well the country itself. The tournament suggested how the nation is appearing to move forward with a bright future. As Emmanuel Adebayor (from Togo, and the African Player of the Year in 2008) said, the summer of 2010 was the whole continent ‘showing another face to the world’.
As 6 African teams entered the World Cup in their own continent to battle for football’s ultimate prize, the tournament’s worldwide fan base became submerged in the instantly recognisable culture and tradition as a result, gaining an insight into many African players and their interpretation of football.
In fact, the tournament as a whole was fairly successful for Africa’s nations that took part. South Africa, eager yet unable, exited at the group stage, the coveted Ivory Coast national team on the other hand disappeared from view with a whimper. As close as it could possibly be to becoming Africa’s first team to ever reach the world cup Semi-Finals, Ghana were cruelly dumped out by Luis Suarez’s infamous handling of the ball on the goal-line against Uruguay, only then for Ghana to subsequently miss the penalty awarded and suffer defeat in the eventual penalty shoot-out.