In general, South Africans are some of the most sport crazed people in the world, and only a handful of nations to actually be successful in most sports we play.
The obvious contenders such as Cricket and Rugby have placed us on the top podiums ever since we started playing them, whilst Golf has been the only individual sport we excelled at (ok, maybe boxing to a lesser extent as well), and next to the United States, South Africa holds the most major wins of any other country; a phenomenal achievement if you consider the damn Brits invented the sport.
Come to think of it, they invented most other sports we play so successfully, which just goes to show that sunshine does help if you want to win something.
Team sports have always been our thing, especially when our opponents had to play is locally.
Ever wondered why?
Well, the plain and simple reason, according to me anyway, is pride.
South Africans view sport as something very similar to war, and anyone challenging us on the sporting field, may as well have bombed Cape Town before they arrive for the big game...
Being a Rugby and Cricket supporter myself (in that order) I’ve never really given Soccer its due as a spectacle to spend time viewing, as I’ve always found it particularly boring.
In fact, I’d rather watch every minute of Test Cricket against Bangladesh before I’d manage a full game of Soccer.
I also try to play Golf... and let’s face it, no one except the pro’s play the game... the rest of us waste the rest of our lives in an attempt to a perfect round, yet my enthusiasm for the game is insatiable!
But... back to Soccer.
Although I’m no avid spectator, I do have respect for the fact that it is a much appreciated game across the world, and accept that it has its place in life, and the world for that matter.
Now... considering that we ooze Golfers, Rugby players and Cricketers (we even produced an F1 world champion dammit!) why then do we suck at Soccer?
Now, as someone not too avid of a local supporter, I understand that my opinion on the subject may not be as informed as others, but surely I know enough to know that Bafana pretty much resembles the public transport infrastructure of Kabul.
Furthermore, I’m quite sure we spend far more money on Soccer than on Rugby and Cricket combined, due to the support base of the sport in S.A, which goes to show that funding should not be the problem with the ‘alleged beautiful game’.
Many supporters would say that big teams like Chiefs and Pirates aren’t that far off, in a technical sense, than their European counterparts... a statement I once again wouldn’t be able to dismiss or accept.
What I do think of then, is the ability of our national team to call themselves proud, and to fight for any type of pride on the battle... erm... Soccer field... simply doesn’t exist.
The conclusion to my theory then is vested in the bold statement that Bafana Bafana players, do not share the same amount of pride for their country as their Cricket and Rugby counterparts do.
Now, given that the bulk... well... all of the Bafana players are black, then one could argue that the lack of national pride is vested in the fact that the current player’s parents did not share any pride for South Africa, as they were oppressed under apartheid.
I mean, what did they have to be proud of?
Their ‘country’ was not theirs, and controlled and owned by whites. Most blacks supported any sport team who played against South Africa in the old days; even though they never took to the sport itself on an interest level.
That means that most black South Africans were brought up without national pride, as neither they nor their parents knew what it felt like, as they didn’t have a country of their own.
So... when you don’t share national pride, then how on earth would you go to war on a sporting field, especially if all you know in that sport, is that it pays your bills?
Now... don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that black people don’t have pride for their country, or patriotism... I’m simply saying that they don’t manifest it on the sporting field as whites do.
Maybe white people are more competitive in nature, or maybe we had to prove to the world that we represented a country we would die for, even though the legality of the ownership was in doubt with everyone else.
The bottom line is that we suck at Soccer because the players representing us don’t see it as going to war with the opposition.
There is a hunger that is missing in South African international Soccer.
Ask any Rugby player or Cricketer, and they’ll gladly admit that they play the game for one reason and one reason only... to play for the national side.
On the other hand one gets the idea that Soccer players do so if and when they have the time or need exposure.
You can throw all the money and coaching expertise you want to at the national Soccer team, and you won’t produce a world class squad capable of climbing the rankings or winning cups... not until pride is restored... or instilled for that matter.
Maybe that’s the problem with the country in general...
Or maybe sport is just sport and not war as the rest of us make it out to be.