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What Are the Top 3 African Sports?

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Every continent has several popular sports, and Africa is no exception. 

When you think of South America, football stands out. And in the United States, baseball, basketball, and football are the most popular sports. 

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The sporting industry has boosted the African economy. Talented sportsmen and women have received accolades and brought millions back to their countries. Sports unite Africans irrespective of their cultures.

Africa is becoming a sports giant. And having many African high profile athletes raising the continent’s competitive edge has been a plus. As a result, international sporting events have been held in Africa, from the World Cup and safari rallies to athletics.

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The Most Dominant Sports in Africa

1. Football

Nigeria celebrates after a penalty
Nigeria celebrates after a penalty. Image source: Wikimedia licenced under CC BY 2.0

Synonymous with “soccer,” football is the most popular sport in Africa.

European colonialists introduced the thrilling sport more than 100 years ago. Africans got to play the game years later, and since then, the industry’s growth has been on the rise.

The beauty of soccer is that it doesn’t segregate. You just need a ball and space to play. And if one lacks the ball, they can always creatively make one.

In African nations, it’s not uncommon to see kids and grown-ups playing the game on the streets, in open fields, and even in small spaces in urban and rural areas.

It will not be surprising that most high-ranking African footballers come from humble beginnings. And it is through football that their lives changed. 

Sponsorships have propelled the growth of the game. This has enabled the sustainability of teams and regional championships. African football clubs, in turn, have become powerhouses. Here are a few:

  • El Alhy SC: Egypt
  • Mamelodi Sundowns FC: South Africa
  • Esperance Tunis: Tunisia
  • Wydad Casablanca: Moroco

Which African countries have been performing well in continental championships? Here are a few:

  • Senegal
  • Nigeria
  • Egypt
  • Ghana
  • Algeria
  • Cameroon

In 2010, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) world cup occurred in South Africa, making it the first time football’s most prestigious tournament was hosted by an African country.

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2. Rugby

South vs USA in the 2015 Rugby World Championships
South vs USA in the 2015 Rugby World Championships. Image source: Wikimedia licenced under CC BY 2.0

Rugby is a sport that has grown roots in several African countries, most notably South Africa, where it is almost as popular as soccer. The Springboks are, without a doubt, one of the finest national teams.

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In Africa, rugby started in South Africa as a British public school idea. As a result of apartheid, black South Africans were restricted from participating in games with the Afrikaners (Dutch descendants).

1995 saw South Africa compete in the world cup and win. They repeated the fete in 2007 and 2019. 

Namibia was the second African country to get to the world cup 6 times, and Zimbabwe 3 times.

Other notable countries that are active in World Rugby and members of the African Rugby Union are:

  • Kenya
  • Botswana
  • Zambia 
  • Madagascar
  • Uganda
  • Rwanda
  • Ghana
  • Cameroon
  • Nigeria
  • Ivory Coast
  • Morocco
  • Tunisia

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3. Athletics

Here’s a YouTube video of Caster Semenya’s win

Colonialists initially brought European sports to ” modernize” Africans and preserve conceptions of racial hierarchy ideologies of the time. What happened next was not a goal of the colonial masters. Africans swiftly adapted these sporting categories to meet their own diverse interests. 

Pierre de Coubertin founded the African Games, formerly The African Games. Colonialists that dominated Africa then became apprehensive of the notion, fearing that the unifying component of sport among Africans might lead to their freedom.

The games, sponsored by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), happen every four years in African member countries. Some of the games that African countries win medals in are middle and long-distance races.

The following are the categories in the World’s Athletics where African athletes excel:

  • Women outdoor
  • Women indoor
  • Men outdoor
  • Men indoor

These top 3 african games have changed the lives of African men, women, and children for the better. Others include cricket and safari rally. These games unite North, South, East, and West Africa. And through them, the world has seen not only some of the best athletes in Africa, but in the world.

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Beatrice Maina
Beatrice Maina
Beatrice Maina is a proficient writer and content manager who crafts high-quality, optimized articles that are helpful to readers. She listens to your brand voice and incorporates it into her writing. With a rich background in SEO writing and keyword research, she understands the need to write content that search engines and readers will love. Thus, she emphasizes the need for articles to meet readers' needs and are Google-friendly.


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