Sports crazy South Africa

South Africa is totally mad for sports. It’s an arena where all people come together to support their teams with virtually religious fervour.

Sports allows for tempers, tears, celebration and ceremony. Most of all, in South Africa, it involves a lot of noise. Whether you’re playing it or watching it, it binds the nation in euphoric cacophony. Bring on the vuvuzelas. Bring on the dustbin lids. Bring on the passionate screams from the crowds. Adrenaline and passion literally go into overdrive when a game is on.

And there are so many different sports to follow that you’d be hard-pressed not to get sucked into following at least one of them.

Rugby is, of course, probably what the country is best known for and, if you’re already a fan, you’ll know the level of rivalry between the Springboks (South Africa), the Wallabies (Australia) and the All Blacks (New Zealand). It seriously reaches a whole other level if you’re on home turf in South Africa though, and is something you definitely shouldn’t miss. Add it to your itinerary!

Wallabies vs Springboks lineout. Photo credit: www.wikipedia.org

Wallabies vs Springboks lineout. Photo credit: www.wikipedia.org

We can’t forget cricket and the tense matches between the local Proteas and the British or Indian teams though. Or soccer, for that matter. Especially since the 2010 FIFA World Cup when South Africa built its first (and subsequent) stadium devoted to football. It well and truly put the country on the world map as a world-class sporting venue with a world-class ‘welcome’ to match, Hundreds of thousands of global visitors experienced the colour of the land and the spirit of its people during the Cup, and the locals carried the competition ‘high’ with them months, if not years, afterwards. The name Bafana Bafana, South Africa’s national squad, continues to ring loud and proud to this day, and remnants of the Fan Walk can still be seen in Cape Town.

FIFA World Cup fever. Fans watching a match armed with their vuvuzelas. Photo credit: www.wikipedia.org

FIFA World Cup fever. Fans watching a match armed with their vuvuzelas. Photo credit: www.wikipedia.org

And then there’s South Africa’s love of long distance. Athletics and endurance seem to go hand-in-hand when it comes to South African competition. Ultramarathons are well-entrenched in both South Africa’s blood and psyche. Both the gruelling 90km Comrades Marathon (raced between Durban and Pietermaritzburg) and the slightly less grueling 56km Two Oceans Marathon that winds its way around the Cape mountains, draw competitors the world over, with some returning year-on-year. To witness their stamina on the road, and get a grasp on how long and diverse the courses really are, is something best done first-hand.

Entrants stride out in the 90km Comrades Marathon. Photo credit: www.thenorthface.com

Entrants stride out in the 90km Comrades Marathon. Photo credit: www.thenorthface.com

There are tons of other sports that locals are fanatical about too: golf, horseracing, boxing, swimming, motorsports, tennis, cycling, surfing… take your pick.

But, if you prefer sport that pushes your personal limits in an extreme way, South Africa has one of the widest ranges of adventure sports you can hope to do anywhere in the world. From aerial sports like skydiving, hanggliding, paragliding, parasailing, microlighting, flying fox and bungy, to water sports like white water rafting, wakeboarding and cage diving with Great Whites or crocodiles. From land-based sports like hiking, abseiling, caving and quad biking. The list goes on.

Paragliding with Table Mountain, Cape Town, in the background. Photo credit: www.flickr.com

Paragliding with Table Mountain, Cape Town, in the background. Photo credit: www.flickr.com

Don’t wait for some big sporting event to visit South Africa though – if sports is your thing, anytime is a good time to back a team. In this country, you will always find an exciting match on the go.

Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg. Photo credit: www.wikipedia.org

Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg. Photo credit: www.wikipedia.org

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