The Jungle Drum - Africa Rising
The Jungle Drum - September 10th 2018
Does A Stronger Africa Lead To A Stronger World Game?
Africa is a continent full of jarring contradictions. On one side of the coin you find incredible beauty, a jaw-dropping array of flora & fauna - and almost boundless levels of creativity. On the other there are countries that exist in never-ending cycles of civil wars, appalling abuses of power and poverty on a scale almost unimaginable to those of us lucky enough to live in developed, Western, countries.
Then there is football. The beautiful game is the most popular sport in, more or less, every single country on the continent. At its best it provides escape. Escape for talented players rising above poverty - escape simply from the daily nightmares a lot of Africans find themselves in.
And I've found myself pondering recently, whilst researching an article on football in the Democratic Republic of Congo, that if certain countries had more stability and less poverty, they would start to excel at international level. If people didn't emigrate from these countries - largely due to trying to build better lives for themselves in more affluent regions of the world - then Africa would certainly have far more competitive teams.
France are the greatest case in point here. 15 of their 23-man World Cup 2018 winning squad were either born in Africa, have African parents or at least one of their parents are of direct African descent.
So it is clearly not a lack of talent that is holding Africa back. Yet only 3 African teams in history have ever made it as far as the quarter finals of a World Cup. Never further. And 2018 marked the first time since 1978 that not a single African team made it past the first round.
So my premise for this week's discussion is that a stronger, more stable, Africa makes for a stronger world game. If stability in certain regions can be achieved and if crippling poverty levels can be reduced, there would be less need to emigrate - meaning a deeper talent pool. It would mean administrations could put in longer lasting, better developed, structures to allow this continent of talent to flourish on home soil.
Join in the debate on Twitter about this here.
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England lose to Spain in their inaugural League of Nations match at Wembley.
Diego Maradona has gone right to the heart of the Sinaloa drug cartel by becoming manager of Dorados de Sinaloa - a 2nd Division Mexican side. This comes only a couple of months after a brief stint as President of Belorussian club Dinamo Brest. This was typically bizarre as he rolled into his introduction day on a tank.
Coming up on FATC are articles on Hamburg St. Pauli and their incredible punk ethic & culture. Also coming soon is an interview with Spurs legend Micky Hazard, a piece on Colombian drug cartels' links to football and a piece on the state of youth football in America.
And, of course, The Jungle Drum will be back at 8:00 P.M. next Monday.
J.S. Leatherbarrow - Editor