Are you heading to South Africa? While you’re there, check out a football game or a rugby match. South African sports are hugely celebrated and are major part of life. Sports bring together all groups of people, rising above race, gender and language. There are three major South African Sports: Football (soccer here in the states), Rugby and Cricket are all intensely followed and continually growing on both a local and national level.
Football: The most widely played sport in South Africa. With the local game growing and the growing number of South African players playing among the European clubs, the passion behind the sport among players and fans, is astounding. Want to break the ice a with a local South African? Show some knowledge of local football, and you’ll make a good friend or to. Here’s a quick intro to the country’s most important teams and competitions:
-Bafana Bafana- the national football team
-Banyana Banyana- South Africa’s top women’s team, known to be the strongest football team in the country and one of the best in Africa.
-Glamour Clubs: Kaiser Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Mamelodi Sundowns, SuperSport United
-Premier Soccer League: This is South Africa’s top league, featuring the country’s best 16 clubs.
-Knockout Competitions include Nedbank Cup, Telkom Knockout Cup, MTN 8
-First Division: Below the Premier Soccer League, the First Division league is made up of 16 clubs as well. At the end of every season, the winner gets promoted up to Premier Soccer League.
Cricket: For 21 years South African cricket was isolated from the rest of the world, due to apartheid policies imposed by the former government. At the time of isolation, they had left as one of the top teams in the world, beating Australia 4-0 easily, however they only had the chance to play Australia, England and New Zealand before the constraints of their government interrupted. In 1991, they were able to step back onto the international playing field, as the “new” South African team, the Proteas. It didn’t take long before they restored their claim as one of the best cricket teams. By 2012 they were ranked at number one in test cricket, after beating England in England. For a long time cricket was considered the game of the privileged white man, however since 1994, Cricket South Africa has been working hard to change this stigma.
Rugby: Rugby is a serious sport in South Africa. Creating a sense of pride, joy and sometimes horrible disappointment amongst fans. On an international level, South Africa has traditionally extremely well. South African rugby is not only source of entertainment and pride in one’s country, but it also bridges gaps and heals old wounds. A monumental example of this occurred in 1995, when the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup on home turf. Nelson Mandela wore the No. 6 jersey belonging the team’s captain Francois Pienaar, a white Afrikaner. The two men embraced one another and made a huge impact on the entire country. Today the South African Rugby Union is working hard to make rugby a game for all South Africans.
You’ll also find Golf, Endurance Sports, Horse Racing and Yacht Racing to be huge in the world of South African sports. Are you ready for your South African adventure? Give us a call at 312-951-8517, or check out some sample packages by clicking here.