Sports in Africa

Between January 19th and February 20th, 2002 school children from all over Africa along with their parents and friends were glued to their radios and TV sets. What was so important? They had football(soccer) fever! After an elimination process that lasted nearly six months, national teams representing 16 African countries earned the right to participate in theAfrican Cup of Nations tournament, the premiere spoeting event in Africa. The African Cup of Nations tournament takes place every two years hosted by a different African country. In 2002 the West African country of Mali hosted the tournament.

Africa Cup of Nations

Link to Africa Political Map

Each of the sixteen African countries who earned the right to compete in the African Cup of Nations tournament in Mali are colored in on the attached map. Study this map and then click on the Africa Political Map.

  • Using information provided on both maps make a list of the 16 countries that played in the African Cup of Nations tournament in 2002.
  • What strikes you about the geographic distribution of African countries that made it to the African Cup of Nations tournament?
  • What region in Africa do you think has the strongest football tradition?
  • What region is least well represented in African Cup of Nations tournament?

After one month of exciting matches that were listened to and watched by tens of millions of poeple from all over the continent the African championship came down to the final match between Cameroon, a traditional powerhouse in African football, and Senegal. It was a tense and exciting match that after regulation time ended in a draw. Neither team scored in the twenty minute overtime period. Consequently, the champion ship came down to a penalty shoot-out. The first two penalty shooters for each team made their shoots. The third penalty kecker from Cameroon made his shoot. However, to the great disappointment of millions of fans in Senegal, the third penalty shooter for Sengal missed his shoot. Can you imagine how he felt? This was like missing a foul shot at the last second in a championship basketball game, or failing to make a touch down on fourth down and inches on the last play of a Super-Bowl game!

Cameroon team celebration their victory in the African Cup of Nations Championship game, 2/20/02 @ BBC world Service

Jubilant Cameroonian players after Senegalese kicker missed his penalty shot. @ BBC World Service

Dejected Senegalese footballers after the missed penalty kick. @ BBC World Service

As in the United States sports are very important in most African countries. Many school children and young people are just as interested in most recent football or cricket match as the are in their school-work. Is this familiar?

World Cup Update

To find out more about sports in Africa click on the following sports.

Football (soccer)
Women’s Football
Men’s Athletics (track)
Women’s Athletics (track)

Game’s and Recreation