Is AFCON important?

We all can agree that football is more than just a sport. It has helped many people get through difficult times – personal or otherwise. We don’t need to go any further than the current pandemic. Football gives people something to look forward to, a reason to be happy or to distract themselves from all the things happening around them. For football to remain relevant, the most important thing is that the younger generations need to be inspired to take up the sport or get involved in it any way they see fit. Therefore, tournaments like World Cup, Euro Cup, Copa America, and AFCON are essential. For a while, people from all quarters have been questioning the gravitas of AFCON. AFCON may not be the most talked-about tournament, but that should not take away the significance of this event.

Image source: Athletic UK

For Players

African Cup of Nations (AFCON) started in 1957 and is organized every two years normally. Football, for the most part, is club-based with players spending most of their time playing for their respective teams. So, representing their nation is a limited event and a matter of huge honor for them. And to be able to do so in an international cup makes it all more special. All the nations and players do not get to be a part of the World Cup. Hence, tournaments like Euro Cup, Copa America, and AFCON are paramount for the players from the footballing nations that miss out to prove that they can compete and make their compatriots proud.

Mali supporters cheering on for their team. Image source: Julie Huehnken/

For Fans

Fans make up the majority of what football is today. The game is as big as it is because of its Faithfuls. And it is a matter of great pride for the fans to see their players representing their country in a tournament. We have seen how the nations rally behind their team regardless of the magnitude of the tournament. Despite the obvious differences between countries and their people, one common thing football ties us with is how the game makes us feel, the joy it gives, and the emotions that it derives – it is the same throughout the globe. And, tournaments like AFCON should be encouraged so that more people fall in love with the game and more people get inspired to follow the game.

For the game

More the countries that can compete at the highest level, the better it is for the game of football because it only takes the standard higher. It is possible only when the teams get to play against the top dogs. Players like Eto, Drogba, and now Mahrez, Mane, and Salah belong to the countries that play AFCON. And we all can agree that football would be missing something if they were not playing the game. They may not always get to play the World Cup or represent their country in any other competitive event, so AFCON holds a special place for them as well. Watching the football giants and their heroes play can inspire the whole country and younger generations to pursue football in the future. This can only be positive for the game.

Children playing football in Mozambique Image source: REUTERS/Grant Lee Neuenbur

For Africa

Africa has faced plenty of tumultuous times and incidents in the years gone by. Plague, famine, epidemic, wars, violence, poverty, trafficking, and whatnot, Africa has been through hell and back. But they have always found ways to bounce back. One of the main ways has been sports and football in particular. The aforementioned things can not only rip people’s hearts but also divide people and nations. However, football has ameliorated those broken hearts to some extent and has been crucial to alleviate various problems and unite people in Africa.

A few years back, the civil war in Ivory Coast ended because of football and Ivorian footballers. It is an instance of how big football is as a sport in Africa. Football is like a religion for them. And AFCON is one of their biggest festivals. What the people of Africa have been through, they deserve every bit of the festivities and joy that come their way. AFCON certainly is one significant celebration in that regard.

All in all, AFCON is an important event – for the players, the fans, and football in general.