Dramatic films about football–with few exceptions, say “Sixty Six” or “The Year My Parents Went on Vacation“– are usually a bust. It seems hard to recreate on-field action or to make connections to larger themes about the nation, identity politics, institutional violence, capitalism or the romance of the beautiful game. And nowadays professional footballers’ lives off-field can be regimented and organized, drained of any real drama. Mario Balotelli, or before him Lilian Thuram or Eric Cantona are major exceptions.
“Why the f**k did he not do that at West Ham!!!” reads a YouTube comment in response to the video clip above featuring Benni McCarthy’s superb free kick in the 2011 Telkom Cup quarterfinal between Orlando Pirates and Moroka Swallows. This is the best goal I have seen in the PSL era: an extraordinary strike in a tense match Pirates were losing by a goal to nil. And while Swallows players were still scratching their heads in bewilderment, he got a second and sealed the match.
The CIES Football Observatory in Switzerland (they study football) recently put out an interactive map trying to show where footballers playing in the top five European leagues come from. Unsurprisingly, West Africa’s big five – Ivory Coast, Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria and Cameroon – dominate the African numbers, each contributing around 20 players.