*For the purposes of this post whenever I say football I mean soccer.
I’m not a huge sports fan in the states but I did watch a lot of baseball, college football, figure skating, and the winter and summer Olympic Games. At site I spend a lot of time on the weekends listening to live Premier League matches on the BBC World Service. (I support Manchester United).
Football is extremely popular here in Burkina Faso. People play it all the time. You don’t need a lot of equipment (just a big enough space, improvised goal area and a ball). You can watch Premier League (England,) Champions’ League (Europe) and African Football. My village doesn’t have electricity but if it’s a big game such as the Champion’s League Final, the UEFA European Championship or the CAN (African Cup of Nations/Coupe des Nations de L’Afrique) you better believe the generator is up and running and everyone is crowded around a 17 inch television.
I love watching football matches with my village. First of all, I love supporting the national team, Les Étalons, (The Stallions). I watched the 2012 CAN with my village, almost every game. I was the only woman there, but I hope I was doing a bit of a gender sensibilisation; it’s perfectly acceptable for women to watch sports! It was even more fun watching Les Étalons, qualify for the 2013 CAN in South Africa against Central African Republic. I’m even more jealous of the PCVs who watch the game in person at the Stade de 4 Aout.
What’s even more fun than watching the match is watching the Burkinabé watch the match. They are VERY passionate about football. If someone misses a pass, they vocalize it. If someone heads the ball, they say something. If their team loses possession only for a moment they get very worried. In my village they like shouting Keng-y!, which is the imperative form of the verb to go (N Kenge) in Mooré.
Everyone wears football jerseys. I have two, one from Burkina and a legit one from Ghana when I was in Accra. You see so many children and adults wearing fake Didier Drogba’s (Côte D’Ivoire) national team jersey and his Chelsea jersey when he played in the Premier League. I’ve also seen a lot of FC Barcelona jerseys, especially Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon) and Michael Essien (Ghana). People here also love La Liga (the Spanish football league) and you see countless FC Barcelona and Real Madrid fake jerseys. You also see the occasional Italian League AC Milan and Juventus jerseys as well.
According to my observations, there are not a whole lot of people in the US who wear football jerseys like they do here in BF. Heck, I didn’t know most of the clubs until I came to Africa and spent a lot of time listening to sports on the radio. I did however get really excited when I saw the French National team going towards baggage claim when I flew into Paris in June.
Football is a global sport…and now that NBC acquired the rights to Premier League games, hopefully it will catch on in Americaland…because I know I will need to get my football fix.