12 things you didn’t know about sports in Africa
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12 things you didn’t know about sports in Africa

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In the States, summertime often means a trip to the ballpark to eat a hot dog and cheer on the local baseball team. While baseball is definitely played in Africa, some of the more beloved pastimes are sports like soccer (a.k.a. football), cricket, and rugby. Read on for a list of 12 facts you may not have realized about a few of the sports played in countries across Africa!

Soccer:

Fans of Bafana Bafana, as the South African soccer team is popularly known, watching the opening game of the World Cup on a big screen set up by FIFA in Soweto. (Photo credit: Marcello Casal Jr/Wikimedia Commons)

Fans of Bafana Bafana, as the South African soccer team is popularly known, watching the opening game of the World Cup on a big screen set up by FIFA in Soweto. (Photo credit: Marcello Casal Jr/Wikimedia Commons)

• Soccer arrived in Africa via British colonials in the 1800’s and quickly spread. Just two decades after its introduction, there were already African teams.

• You might remember that in 2010, South Africa hosted the World Cup. But did you know it was the first African nation ever to do so?

More than 80 percent of Africa’s World Cup players play club soccer on teams that are based in Europe.

• Soccer has been used for political effect: Africans as a bloc convinced FIFA, the game’s world governing body, to suspend South Africa in 1961 because of its apartheid policies.

Cricket:

• Zimbabwe and South Africa are two of just 10 countries sanctioned by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to play Test Cricket.

• And what’s Test Cricket, you ask? It’s the longest form of the sport of cricket: The two teams play a four-innings match, which may last up to five days or longer.

The second day of an Australia vs. South Africa Test Match in Melbourne, in 2005. (Photo credit: Ricky212/Wikimedia Commons)

The second day of an Australia vs. South Africa Test Match in Melbourne, in 2005. (Photo credit: Ricky212/Wikimedia Commons)

• The 2003 Cricket World Cup was hosted in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya.

• South Africa also has a women’s national cricket team—they’re currently 6th in the rankings!

Rugby:

• Rugby was introduced to South Africa by British soldiers garrisoned in Cape Town in 1875.

• The Confederation of African Rugby is the governing body of rugby union within Africa and currently has 37 members. It runs various rugby tournaments within Africa including the CAR Super 16 and the Africa Cup.

The Ghana national men’s sevens Rugby team. (Photo credit: MMZANetworx/Wikimedia Commons)

The Ghana national men’s sevens Rugby team. (Photo credit: MMZANetworx/Wikimedia Commons)

• The African Leopards are a pan-African representative team that aims to promote rugby throughout the continent.

• The 2016 Africa Cup just wrapped up! See results here.

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