The premiership is back and so is the madness

Yesterday the English premier League season started afresh and so did the soccer madness in our city and other places across the African continent.I have always wondered why people in these parts of the world are so mesmerized by the English premier league.

Yesterday the English premier League season started afresh and so did the soccer madness in our city and other places across the African continent.

I have always wondered why people in these parts of the world are so mesmerized by the English premier league.

From remote villages thanks to the arrival of the satellite television (DSTV) to big cities, people will be eating, breathing and dreaming football as seen through the angle of the English premier league.

From bar talk to office gossip, the league is the leading topic of discussion.

And moreover, people relate to the teams they support in the first person. You will find a Manchester United fan in Karengera claiming “ownership” in Man U.

He will explain to you why they (Man U and himself included) decided to sell Ronaldo or why they did not purchase a certain player.

Premier soccer fans in Africa take a lot of pride is supporting English football clubs, something that is very rare when it comes to supporting African soccer sides or even other causes that have a tangible effect in their lives.

I am not saying people should not support foreign clubs of their choice, but sometimes it comes across and is indeed irrational.

The irrationality and even madness that has been occasioned by English soccer in Africa is seen from situations where people have even committed suicide over it. 

One Kenyan made news when he killed himself over an Arsenal loss. Fights have also erupted over arguments on the premiership, sometimes with fatal consequences.

In some countries secondary school students have rioted after being denied a chance to watch English premier league matches.

Sometimes, husbands forget about their families because of the soccer phenomenon, while others prefer watching Arsenal tussling it out with Liverpool instead of concentrating on their income generating activities.

The question is how did we come to this? Of course the wide reach of satellite television –DSTV has played the major role.

But what are the underlying dynamics that have given particularly European soccer this prominence and hero worshiping amongst people of all walks in Africa.

Is there a lack of what to worship and idolize. Most probably this is a result of the dismal performance of African football clubs when it comes to international competitions.

Others would say failure of many other issues relevant to peoples lives have created a situation where by people use the premiership to massage their frustrations.

This dismal performance is very perplexing because when Africans get the chance to play for European teams, they succeed and many have become highly acclaimed international players.

People like George Weah, Eto’o Fils, Drogba to mention but three have become soccer sensations across the world.

But when it comes to playing for their national teams, they do not do much compared to how they perform when they are playing for European clubs.

This also obtains in other aspects of life.

It probably has a lot to do with the issue of money and the attendant benefits that accrue as a result. This also obtains for why many in Africa are hooked onto the English premiership.

The glamour that surrounds the premiership is what attracts all this soccer madness from Africans. The money involved in the transfer and buying of players is mindboggling and hence attracts a lot of attention.

For the young school going kids, the glamour around their premier soccer heroes like Ronaldo or Eto’o is particularly attractive because it allows them to dream.

They can dare to dream being as successful and with international acclaim as the Ronaldos. For them, the thing is that if they do not make it in class, maybe they will score on the soccer pitch after all others have done it.

And many of the African soccer stars based in Europe, are from humble backgrounds and thanks to their talent, they have managed to rise to the top.

But for the older generation that has also caught the bug, one wonders what they hope to attain from this love for foreign football leagues apart from just entertainment. But the sheer enthusiasm bordering on madness is simply hard to comprehend, whatever the case.

frank2kagabo@yahoo.com

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