Soccer, awakening a continental giant
Soccer is alive and well in Africa.
In fact, African soccer is thriving, in spite of local
conflicts, national disasters, political upheavals and
financial problems. It continues to produce some of the best
players in the world who possess great technical and foot
These skills seemed to be unrivalled by their European and
North American counterparts. This could be because most of the
youth play their soccer (football) in the streets from dusk to
dawn. Sometimes these youth have little else to do during the
day and not many other national sports to choose from.
The youth will play at breaks at school and
many other functions. However this is changing as more is being
offered especially with the field of Olympic type of sports and
as the countries continue to develop. This could also be that
the children, boys and girls start playing at a very early age
and are exposed to other players virtually all the time. They
are learning through observation and "copying" successes.
Start sports at an early age
It is thought that reaction speed and small
motor co-ordination develops and is consolidated before age
seven (7). This means that children no matter where they may
live have an advantage when they start any athletic activities
at an early age.
Play is a very important part of life,
especially open and creative play. As the child and youth grow
older they can then have more of a structured environment to
develop team play.
In Africa there are fewer venues offered for
practice and play than in North America and Europe. This
results in the game being played in all kinds of conditions,
sometimes with poor or no equipment at all.
Different conditions force the player to be
more aware of the total playing environment. This is the
surface (field) conditions... if there is a field, and the
size, shape and pressure of the ball...
if there is a real soccer ball.
Most games are played with fewer
players...small sided games. This produces more touches on the
ball under pressure. The Dutch recognized this and organize
programs to include this idea. They will sometimes not have
full sided games...that is 11 aside teams for youth under 16
years old. This helps develop more individual touches on the
For more information on youth development go to
Some parts of the continent are promoting
women's football, realizing that it is a huge benefit to the
overall well being of society as well as nation building.
The same can be said about youth development programs, they are
good for the well being of all countries. Some countries are
taking giant leaps and others are taking small steps, while
others aren't with the program yet.
It takes the will to start even at the local
level in small villages and townships. However something must
Strong parents both male and female are great role models for
Their involvement in sport has long term benefits for
societies. This is in all aspects of health (mental, physical,
The social fabric is strengthened by mass
participation and the addition of women into any country's
It doesn't matter at what level this occurs, from the highest
of international competitions, to the weekly family and
Soccer is one of the most beneficial sports
around. People are engaged in friendly, physical and mental
competition. This heightens the awareness of all other issues
within societies by enabling people to be engaged in
Communication levels rise and problems are solved on and
Yes, "Soccer is Life".
Women are a third of the equation and keepers
of unity within the family. More women need to be trained as
coaches, administrators, managers and in the fields of fitness,
health and welfare and also technical advisors.
The future is bright, it is friendly and soccer
is alive and well on the continent of Africa.
For more on the ever evolving women's soccer go
to Women's Soccer. and the following will
take you to some links to other African Soccer information.
videos of JJ Okocha et al