African Magic Vs Scientific Football | The Wonders and the Future of the beautiful Game

Ernest Okonkwo once said: “In life, as in football, culture shape the way players see things.” Indeed, it’s played out in the contest. While Europeans approach sports as science that need to be proof; Africans believe football is a magical game that often has mystical quality about it.

There are some famous victories seen in annals of the game as miracles; and equally some famous defeats brought by cruel twist of fate. And in trying to analyze the sport from fetish point of view, most Africans may have concluded that every football win has an element of luck in it.This created in their mind a fathom “god of Soccer” who influences everything.

 The gods should be appeased and its power invoked in favor of their team every time there’s a competition. And African teams have employed several media, which is now categorized as either white or black magic. Though, a very thin line that differentiate the rituals – horoscope, sorcery, prophetic prayers are referred as white magic; while Voodoo, Juju, Witchcraft regarded as black magic. The Stadium become the shrine or temple for the worshipers – African see football as another religion.

In preparing for any major tournament a typical African team would rather employ a Voodoo Priest and its magic than invest in sports science and technology. It is alleged that the Voodoo Priest can invoke the wind to change directions of ball on flight or cause a goalkeeper to hallucinate to see thousands of balls at once and may not know which one is real.

The priest can employ Witchcraft to hypnotize players on the field. With a human shaped wooden instrument and thread on his hand, the priest can tie certain players from performing. In the other hand, he can cause an average player shine like a thousand stars and score goals too.

 I think this is the major reason African football runs in vicious circle. There’s hardly innovations or improvement in their approach and style of play.

I am not sure employing magical powers really work in football. Maybe, in African cup of Nations or other African based competitions. But when it comes to the world stage, African teams and their Voodoo Priest flop like pack of cards.

The future of African football lean on the people changing their mindset and begin to explore into the body of knowledge science and technology offer sports today. There have been a lot of technological innovations that has immensely improved the way football is played in Europe and some part of America – from training machines and equipment for performance enhancement, to data analysis influencing different aspect of the game.

Let’s take some few examples. German national team for instance, uses ‘Footbonaut’ to train their players. No wonder the team is called ‘German Machine.’

Smart clothing and fabrics that could monitor the players health and emotional state was proposed as far back as a decade ago. So players can transmit a wealth of data that reflects the nuance of their performance – can easily to acclimatize to weather.

Some teams now adopt performance analysis – using a data driven approach for recruiting players and producing game strategy. Data analysis has moved out of the lab and unto the playing field.


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