There is no doubt that many of the people who occupy this lovely landmass called Africa are crazy about football. It is not because we are as good at it as the Indians are at cricket. In our case, it is largely because it is one of the cheapest games we can indulge in. Once we have some space and something round enough to be kicked around we are good to go. Allan Brian Ssenyonga Later on we can find some space for a pitch and make goal posts out of wooden poles and play until the grass swears never to grow there again. Some schools can maintain the green on the fields because of the school breaks and the long hours spent in class leaving very little time for the football crazy ones to play. Other games tend to require way more expensive equipment and facilities to set up so we largely just focus on football. Over the years we have developed such a deep love for these big clubs in Europe that we have weaned ourselves of the little support we had for the local leagues. The European clubs are now part of our identity. It is common to meet a stranger and after a few lines of introduction you make the announcement that you are a Man U, Arsenal, Chelsea, Madrid or Barcelona fan. In many cases this is figured out by just looking at the shirt or wrist band one is wearing. The fanaticism now has a new angle called sports betting. Every once in four year the game’s biggest show piece – the FIFA World Cup is held in a country that has the facilities to do so. Only South Africa has hosted the games although Morocco has placed in its bid several times. In many other African nations there is just one medium sized national stadium and a few spaces that some clubs can claim as home grounds. The main stadium hosts the big games and a lot of political events, mega music concerts and religious crusades. The gods at FIFA allocate Africa a total of five slots. For a long time we had just two slots for a continent of over 50 nations. These slots could be more if the quality of our football was much better. In other words we have to earn them. The pain now is that for the first time since 1982 our five representatives have all been knocked out at the first stage of the tournament. We have basically been orphaned so early in the tournament. The typical African football fan follows this tournament while feeling conflicted at all stages. During the group games we tend to support the African teams than have players that look more like us. If you are in East Africa you will cheer more for the Nigerians and Senegalese than the Tunisians or Moroccans. Should the North Africans slip up in any game, we quickly brand them as Arabs and not Africans. Interestingly, for some games we are conflicted on whether to support the African team fully or celebrate the goal by that player who plays for “our club” Arsenal or Manchester United. Now that the African teams are all out we shall spend some little time crying that we were cheated or conceding that our quality is not good enough before we move on to supporting the South American teams that have more darker skinned players. At some point we find ourselves claiming the whole French team because it looks so African in complexion or the Belgian one because see a brother with roots in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I don’t even want to mention the pain of listening told white commentators referring to African players only as having incredible pace and strength or when they compare Ahmed Musa to a gazelle. All this pain will ease when our governments get more serious about supporting the sports industry. Stopping those who grab football pitches to erect ugly shopping malls and allowing whole communities to exist without any space for sports grounds. We need to develop and support more of our talents to play the game at this top level. We cannot keep relying on foreign coaches and individual talent from other leagues and expect to take on the world as credible contenders. We need to go back to the basics and fix them. Let the children play and support our local leagues more. We can’t keep outsourcing talent development and entering tournaments where our only strategy is hope. Email: email@example.com Blog: www.ssenyonga.wordpress.com Twitter: @ssojo81 The views expressed in this article are of the author.