Whether you call it soccer or football, the beautiful game has provided a great source of unity — not just in South Africa but across the world. It brings people together regardless of race, culture, age or gender.
The atmosphere and goosebumps you get when your favourite team is playing against an old rival. Win or lose, that feeling is indescribable.
Stadiums that sizzle
South African football has improved over the years. Even the stadiums have come a long way from the dusty pitches that players used to play on.
With the announcement that the 2010 Fifa World Cup was going to be hosted on African soil for the first time via South Africa, followed news that five new stadiums were to be built in Cape Town (Cape Town Stadium), Port Elizabeth (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium), Durban (Moses Mabhida Stadium), Nelspruit (Mbombela Stadium) and Polokwane (Peter Mokaba Stadium).
To add to that, another five stadiums were upgraded to fit the standard of a world cup. This gave birth to what is arguably the best stadium in Africa, Soccer City Stadium (previously called FNB Stadium) in Johannesburg. With room to fit 94 700 spectators, the calabash-inspired stadium is the largest stadium in Africa.
Kitted out to the nines
Even the kit has turned more fashionable as Kaizer Chiefs' home kit for 2019/2020 was voted the second-best stripe in the world.
According to Unisport, the black-and-yellow swirl edges over Manchester City, Arsenal, Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid who ranked between fourth and eighth place respectively, with Inter Milan acquiring the top spot.
Sponsors are putting in more effort to ensure that the designs are top notch.
Gone are the days where players would wear very loose-fitting jerseys with fold-over collars. Now the jerseys are more fitted with a collar design that fits tighter around the neck and chest area, showing a more symmetrical design.
Pitso Mosimane has been with Mamelodi Sundowns since 2012. Initially, he was booed at by supporters for the team's failure to win trophies, but management put their trust in him, and he has since led the team to greater heights and has become the most decorated coach in South Africa by winning several domestic and international cups.
Furthermore, he was named the African Coach of the Year at the 2016 Glo-CAF Awards in Abuja, Nigeria. Mosimane recently signed a new deal that saw him extend his stay with Masandawana and is rumoured to rake up about R65 million at the end of the extended four years.
This type of coaching excellence serves as an inspiration to younger coaches, such as Rhulani Mokoena, who look up to him…that they too can one day reach his great stature.
African talent spreading wings
There is more African talent dominating the European fields as opposed to in the older days when it was just a handful. This includes May Mahlangu, Thulani Serero, Lebogang Phiri, Ayanda Patosi, Lebo Mothiba, Mihlali Mayambela, Pule Ekstein, Percy Tau and Bongani Zungu just to name a few.
However, we cannot ignore that in terms of technology, we are still lacking.
With so many errors that referees make, the hopes of having video assistant referee (VAR) technology to introduce fairness on the pitch seems way to far-fetched because we do not even have goal-line technology, something that European teams already have had for five years.