Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Banana Banana

Last week a local clothing chain was ordered to remove soccer T-shirts from their shelves which shows the South African colours but with the words Banana Banana instead of Bafana Bafana. I agree, maybe it is a bit anti-patriotic, so last night I actually also watched my first full soccer match ever in my effort not to be too obvioulsy "un-patriotic" when it comes to soccer. This was between Bafana Bafana and Bulgaria. Now I know my soccer loving friends (or ex-friends after this) will probably want to crucify me, but here is my opinion on last night's match and on soccer as a sport in general.

I know all the stuff about soccer being the most loved and played sports of all, and the huge amounts of money involved and warra-warra, but this is how I experienced it as a rugby loving spectator. The idea to watch the full game came after I switched on the television and saw that South Africa was leading 1-0. Although I have never supported the Bafana Bafana, or any other soccer team for that matter, I was actually hoping that South Africa would beat these Bulgarians. Just to shut up the critics for a while. South Africa I think is lying around 90th on FIFA's rankings and Bulgaria 39th. Beating them would've really looked good on Bafana Bafana's CV's and would do a lot for their moral. After all, they are just in the World Cup because South Africa is hosting this and we need more good results for nation building, like the Super 14 semi-final and final that is being played in Soweto currently.

Anyway, being a total novice when it comes to soccer, apart from the beach soccer we played as kids, I was surprized to see how many times they kick the ball around to each other without actually moving an inch forward. In the beginning of the second half, Bafana Bafana wasted nearly 10 minutes of playing time by kicking the ball to and thro. And the fact is, the spectators paid for that time too. I was wondering why the Bulgarians were just standing around and watching this happen while they could've made at least an effort to get the ball themselves and see if they could be more productive with it. Afterall, you can only score when you kick the ball in the direction of the net. To get back to the first half. It was not long after I started watching when the Bulgarians actually did exactly that. They kicked the ball towards the net, and by the grace of God, it went in. Score, one all. At this point I could've switched the TV off, because after that, NOTHING happened. As my comment on Facebook this morning regarding my opinion on soccer, it looks to me to be nothing more than a game of luck. Like two blindfolded men trying to hit the bull on a dart board. The one with the most luck wins. Time after time each side had a "corner" kick-in. The players team up in front of the posts, the guy kicks from the corner, and the ball either hits their heads, or they try and kick it in some direction. The direction that the ball heads in has a 50/50 chance of going left or right. If they are lucky, which none of them were for the remainder of the game, the ball might go into the direction of the net. And then there is a dude with gloves making the odds against luck even more ridiculously small.

Take rugby on the other hand. They have different ways of scoring points, even from different positions and directions on the field. The score changes every 5-10 minutes or so. The excitement levels go up and down as they are fighting their way across the field to get to the score line. The adrenaline and excitement never stops. But the soccer players waste time by kicking the ball around while the other teams stands and watches. During the second half I was hoping someone would at least score, ANYone for that matter, just as long as there was something happening. What a disappointment. Their luck was evenly matched, 50% for the Bafana Bafana, and 50% for the Bulgarians and this was concluded in the middle of the first half.

The other thing I noticed was how soft the players were. I guess the hardest knock you will ever get is a kick against the foot or shin. This happened quite a lot, and it reminded me of the days when we used to trip our fellow pupils at school just to piss them off. But you have no idea how much pain such a move inflicts on these guys...or so they make it look like. Grown men rolling around on the grass after he (or "she") was kicked on the boot, not even on the shin. The facial expressions worse than a man that was stabbed for a packet of cigarretes in the streets of Mitchell's Plain. Can you imagine what would happen if they ever land up in a rugby match? It seems the more painful you make it look, the better your chance of getting the ball again through a "professional foul". In the picture above someone illustrating how to fake the excrutiating pain these men have to endure for the love of the game...

I don't think after this I will be converted. I was really hoping last night that by watching a full game, that I would be more interested in the World Cup games. I really hope Bafana Bafana will have better luck in their games to come, but unfortunately I will not be there to see it happen. Pity "banana banana" sounds so similar to Bafana Bafana, because that would not have been so inappropriate to describe this game called soccer in general. Maybe when I get older and my heart cannot take it anymore when the Springboks are trailing behind 21-19 to the Aussies, with 2 minutes left on the clock and doing their last scrum right in front of the Aussies posts with the possibility of scoring that much needed 3 or 5 points still there, then I will start watching soccer and be sure of not too much excitement that could lead to possible fatal heart failure.


  1. Ha,ha, I liked this, you picked the wrong game to watch mate, stick with it, once you see a real match being played you may change your mind.

    Hope Bafana Bafana do well in the World Cup it would be great for your country to see them go far.

    Best of luck, I will be cheering them on.

  2. Thanks YahWeh. Your positive feedback on my somewhat negative post convinced me to try again when the "big guns" play. And thanks for your Bafana Bafana support, I too hope they do well.