Senegal Football (Soccer)

If there’s anything people in Senegal are passionate about, it’s football (aka soccer). Any empty space doubles up as a football field; a beach, an empty lot, a non busy street, a yard, a driveway…etc. It doesn’t even have to be flat or big. Boys of all ages gather around and play. Some in flip flops, some barefoot, some in slippers or shoes, it doesn’t matter. Even if the ball is not fully inflated, we’ll still play. No ball? No problem. We’ll kick around a crumbled can, bottle or anything that can be kicked around. Add 4 stones for the goals and we’re on! There are also the more professional versions: uniforms, rectangular goals, a fully inflated ball, tires lining the field…etc. People stop and watch as they’re going about their day.
Even when they’re not playing with others, you quite often see young boys walking down the street kicking around an object, chasing it, pretending to maneuver with imaginary opponents.
Football is huge here. When the national team is playing, the energy in the air is electrifying. Football players are super stars. Senegal is the current “Africa Cup of Nations” champion and the biggest exporter of players to European teams.
Football (soccer) is probably the most accessible group sport to the masses. No club membership needed, no fancy equipment, no hurdles to joining. There are almost always games going on in public spaces. It fosters cooperation, physical agility and camaraderie. Instead of falling prey to gangs, drugs and violence, young boys find an outlet for their energy that is healthy mentally and physically.
While kids in affluent societies are sitting on their butts wasting away with screen and other addictions, getting all sorts of physical and mental illnesses, African kids are playing football with their friends, having a great time and getting healthy. That’s why a large percentage of international football stars are originally from Africa. Who really needs aid?

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