There are very few things that get an average African more excited than a football match.

Football is the most popular sport in Africa, played and watched by millions of people around the continent.

In fact, activities around football have gone well beyond watching and playing. Many Africans now invest serious money into football betting, hoping to earn profits from the sport they love.

As a consequence, Africa has become a hot bet for betting sites, with several heavyweight bookmakers establishing their presence on the continent.

Betway, for example, is in numerous African markets, including Betway Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa.

There is an argument for long-distance running in East Africa, especially in Kenya and Ethiopia, while South Africa is pretty diverse with cricket and rugby getting lots of love. Here in Malawi, we are quite good at Netball, but football remains the king of sports in many African nations, and by some distance too.

But what makes football so popular in Africa?

The foundations of football in Africa can be traced to the colonial era. Many African nations were colonised by European countries (notably Great Britain, France and Portugal), where football was already immensely popular.

It only makes sense that this popularity should be passed on to their colonies. The adulation for football in Africa has grown in leaps and bounds through subsequent generations.

A major factor driving the popularity of football in Africa is the simplicity and accessibility of the sport. It is very easy to understand the game, just as it is to set up and play the sport.

Kids across Africa easily create their own makeshift football fields by making use of the empty spaces in their backyards, on the streets or any other place big enough to accommodate a football match.

They can make goal posts with stones and sticks; and draw lines with chalk. In some cases, empty cans may be used in place of the football!

Unlike some other sports that require tons of money to set up, football is very inexpensive to start. This is why many African kids take to football at a very early age.

They are motivated by the exploits of their role models on TV, and hope to be like them in the coming years. Youngsters across Africa hold on to the belief that they will someday earn a good living from football, and become the next Didier Drogba.

Football is like a religion in Africa, evoking great passion and emotion from fans. It is often said that it is the major unifying factor of people in the continent. Many African countries have thousands of tribes and ethnic groups, but whenever football is involved, especially at national football team level, all tribes come together as one big family.

Even in the rivalry between nations and club sides, there is great camaraderie and friendship amongst spectators in and out of the match venues. There are occasions when emotions tend to get over the top, but the general feeling around a football match is that of fun and entertainment.

It is true that other sports have similar effects on people, but none is as pronounced as football. Long may it continue as the King of Sports in Africa!

NBS Bank Your Caring Bank