Soccer has long since had the reputation of being the people’s game in South Africa. This was largely due to fact the game itself was not as economically restrictive as say rugby. The only equipment required is a ball, a certain amount of open space and some willing players. Even the ball could be improvised out of paper and duct tape.
In the days before television grew to be so popular and South Africa was, quite literally, cut off from the international world, local players were treated like superstars. The likes of Teenage Dladla, who had an impressive pair of boots named after him, had a virtual cult following. These days soccer fans in South Africa are almost more interested in the British Premiership than our own PSL.
Teams like Kaiser Chiefs, Morocco Swallows, Hellenic and Cape Town Spurs will always be well-supported but sadly not with same financial backing as South African Rugby. This anomaly remains to bone of contention among sports fans in South Africa, but as the support base for rugby has grown among the non-white sports lovers, so the bone has grown less contentious.
The level of soccer played in South Africa is quite high, even though the South African national team ( Bafana Bafana ) has not been showered with silverware. South Africa always has a few representatives playing in the Barclays Premiership and in the other European leagues. While this gives the players valuable international experience, the down side is that the inflated salaries mean that they are not always keen to meet national team commitments.
In the recent Africa Cup there were nine players, who play their club soccer in South Africa, playing in the final. The PSL is one of the highest paying leagues in the world, on a relative scale, of course, and a result the best players in Africa are attracted to South African shores. This has to have an overall positive influence on domestic soccer and while the trophy cabinet is a bit bare at the moment, pundits all agree that the glory years for soccer in South Africa definitely lie ahead.