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Tracing multicultural footprints in sport

Copyrights: Gabriel Tabona

Tracing multicultural footprints in sport

It is almost impossible to separate culture and various sport philosophies.

Culture is identified as the nerve centre through which human and organisational behaviour is anchored upon. While admitting that it is complex in nature, sport and culture often seem to identify themselves with different undercurrents.

Geo-ethnic undertones have been witnessed in football fixtures such as the famous Mashemeji Derby pitting popular football clubs; Gor Mahia against AFC Leopards, who trace their origins to western Kenya where Bantu and Nilotes lived and intermarried from the pre-colonial era. Tribal-inspired team names’ popularity faced backlash when the Kenyan government ordered them to change due to what it perceived as “promoting tribalism”. However national teams such as Egypt named their team Pharaohs after the biblical figure perhaps  its superiority as a sports powerhouse. Cultural spaces such as the Bomas of Kenya, which has annexed the 42 tribes, can be resourceful in understanding foundations of ethnic profiling in sports.

While meetings such as the IWAG Conference 2018 in Botswana discussed issues surrounding retrogressive culture in the context of diversity and gender dynamics, barriers hindering women’s participation in active sports or media are mostly aimed at justifying bio-social biases. Women’s ability to achieve peak performance, officiating matches, different Olympic qualification times from male counterparts and sports broadcasting are some of the factors fuelling stereotypes that they can only play netball and volleyball.

Communication, symbols and history embody culture of a host country in mega-sports events. Mascots and attire design symbolise the country’s unique distinction. In 2010, South Africa introduced an African-inspired match ball, Jabulani, while Congolese  football players usually celebrate goals by dancing a Lingala tune. Incidents like the Hiroshima atomic bombing gave birth to therapeutic paper folding practice called Origami, yet the hiragana, katakana and kanji mode of writing will greatly endear the globe to the country’s culture during the 2020 Games.

Cuisine and health remedies have affected the integrity of sports. 2004 Athens Olympics remains a perfect example where a Kenyan boxer was banned after testing positive for using khat, a popular stimulant in central Kenya.

Work ethic cannot escape the eye of culture, which is why the volunteer recruitment brief for the 2020 Games, the Kaizen concept will be applied to mean that only industrious and effective applicants will earn opportunity.

It is clear that sports draws its own philosophy of existence from cultural practices which shape how its end-users perceive the spirit of sport.


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Tuesday, September 4, 2018 - 09:40

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