The Most Popular Sports in Africa and Some Fun Facts about Them
Africa holds about 15% of the world’s population, with the occupants being quite diverse. It has produced quite a number of world-class athletes in nearly all types of sports and dominated in various competitions over the years. There are particular sports that are a bit more popular compared to others on the continent. Such sports have given birth to African tournaments that are known worldwide and attract very huge crowds from across the globe. Below are a few fun facts about the most popular sports on the African continent.
Soccer is without a doubt the most popular sport in Africa. The love of the game started way back in the 1800s when the European colonialists introduced the sport in Africa. Many Africans took an interest in soccer and continued to develop it up to date where there is a huge number of professional soccer clubs in all the African countries. The first professional soccer teams were actually formed just two decades after the introduction of the sport in the continent.
Another fact to know is that South Africa became the first African country to host the World Cup, which was in the year 2010. South Africa had previously been suspended from participating in football tournaments in 1961 due to its apartheid policies. Of all the African players who participated in the World Cup, more than 80% of them play professionally for European clubs.
Rugby also has phenomenal popularity in the African continent. South Africa, in particular, played a major part in popularizing the sport in the continent. It currently has more than 600,000 registered players and is ranked by the World Rugby Rankings as fourth on the global scale. Despite the popularity of the sport in the continent, there are only a few teams that excel in it when it comes to global tournaments. South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, and Namibia are among those countries. The governing body of rugby in Africa is known as the Confederation of African Rugby, which has a total of 37 members.
Athletics is not only popular in Africa, but also the sporting field where Africans excel at the most. The African athletes are known for their incredible strength, endurance, and speed, which are basically the main ingredients of exceptional performance in athletics. The African countries that have earned their place on the map when it comes to athletics include Kenya, Ethiopia, Algeria, and South Africa. The great performance that athletes from African countries usually display has also contributed quite a lot in developing sports tourism, a valuable source of revenue and pride.
Cricket became quite popular in Africa after the Cricket World Cup was hosted in the continent. The three countries that co-hosted the major event were South Africa, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. More African countries began to participate in international cricket events and are getting results that are quite commendable. A fun fact to know is that South Africa had been banned from participating in any international cricket event for 20 years. The ban was caused by the apartheid policies that were in the country at that time, which did not allow any black South African to play cricket.
Some of the other popular sports in Africa that are worth mentioning here include basketball, rallying, cycling, handball, and volleyball.