What Is the Most Popular Sport in Africa?

Sport is an important part of African culture. Sports, regardless of culture or social affiliation, are believed to bring Africans together. There is no doubt that it has the potential to produce world-class athletes in every sport. African players can be found in almost every sport today, and they are not backing out any time soon.

Sports in Africa have a long history, and the continent is now widely recognized globally for its excellence in a variety of sporting fields. Let’s take a look at some of Africa’s most popular sports.

8 Most Popular Sports in Africa

1. Football

African football

Football is without a doubt Africa’s most popular and favorite sport, from north to south, east to west. Its roots can be found in the 1800s. It is common to see children playing football in any vacant lot in rural and even urban areas. Some of the most famous professional footballers began their careers in those humble playgrounds, which may surprise you.

Because Africans enjoy the sport, the number of professional football clubs and leagues on the continent has steadily increased. Among these are the African Cup of Nations, the Nigeria Professional Football League, the ABSA Premier Soccer League-South Africa, and the Algerian Ligue Professionnelle. Without a doubt, sponsorships from both the public and private sectors contribute to football’s popularity.

Some notable African footballers include Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure, Samuel Eto’o, and a slew of others who are making waves around the world.

2. Rugby

African rugby

Rugby is popular in Namibia and South Africa. Along with football and cricket, it is one of South Africa’s major sports. The Confederation of African Rugby is Africa’s governing body for rugby union. It currently has 37 members. It organizes rugby tournaments throughout Africa, such as the CAR Super 16 and the Africa Cup. The African Leopards are an African representative team that aims to promote rugby throughout the continent.

The rugby industry in Kenya has expanded rapidly, with the international annual Safari Sevens Tournament attracting players from all over the world. Kenya’s National Rugby Team won the IRB Sevens World Series in Dubai in 2016.

The number of rugby players in South Africa has steadily increased, with over 600,000 registered rugby players. Kenya, on the other hand, has 40,000 registered players, 3,000 of whom are women and 30,000 of whom are teenagers. South Africa was ranked fifth in the World Rugby Rankings released on July 17, 2017, behind New Zealand, England, Ireland, and Australia.

3. Cycling

African cycling

Cycling has long been associated with Western nations, but it is becoming increasingly popular in Africa. Cycling is a rapidly growing phenomenon that is extremely popular in South Africa, which is known for its scenic and exciting cycling routes. The varied cycling routes expose participants to a variety of ecosystems, such as tree-lined streets and lush vineyards.

Cycling is popular in South Africa, as evidenced by the thousands of registered members totaling over 25,600. Greg Minaar is a South African who has won the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup three times.

Women’s cycling is also gaining popularity in Eritrea’s neighboring country, Ethiopia. Similarly, Algeria and Kenya are considering cycling as a sport.

4. Cricket

African cricket

Cricket is very popular in Africa, particularly in Kenya, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, and Uganda are also big fans. South Africa, on the other hand, was barred from playing international cricket for 20 years due to apartheid policies. South Africa began competing in international events after the ban was lifted.

The 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup, co-hosted by Kenya, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, was Africa’s first cricket tournament. This tournament has also contributed to the sport’s growing popularity across the continent.

Among the notable African cricketers are AB de Villiers, Graeme Smith, Barry Richards, Hashim Amla, Allan Donald, and Dale Steyn.

5. Wrestling

African wrestling

Wrestling has been a part of many African cultures since time immemorial, with village wrestling matches being common. It is a great reflection of African society and tradition, not just a sport. This practice is still practiced in many communities today, particularly in Senegal, Sudan Nubian communities, and Southern Egypt, where wrestling is popular. Wrestlers who are good are well-respected and go on to become prominent athletes.

Wrestling is the most popular sport in Senegal. Football comes in second place. Wrestling, surprisingly, has been a major catalyst in the country’s social assimilation and economic progress, in addition to being a perfect symbol of African culture and tradition. Senegal is also one of West Africa’s most successful and vibrant national sports hubs, so Senegalese wrestling is now being watched across borders.

Wrestling, once a village sport played to pass the time during the dry season, is now a multi-million dollar sport. According to statistics, the emerging sport receives up to $2 million in sponsorships per year. National players can now earn up to $200,000 per match. This sum is so lucrative that many impoverished African youths are drawn to wrestling, believing it to be the best way to improve the quality of their lives.

6. Athletics

Africa athletics

Africa is an athletics powerhouse, particularly in field and track events, where the continent has excelled in international competitions. There is no doubt that athletics has helped to put Africa on the map, and these success stories began a few decades ago. African athletes have shone and broken major world records at high-profile global sporting events thanks to the continent’s abundant talent. Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Algeria are among the African countries known for their outstanding athletic performance.

Athletes from Africa play an important role in promoting Africa as a sports continent. Furthermore, as a result of the hype and success of athletes, sports tourism has been steadily increasing. Athletics in Africa dates back to 1908, when Reggie Walker, a South African sprinter, became the first African to win an Olympic 100-meter gold medal.

Kenya has the distinction of being the top African country in the Athletics field, according to an IAAF World Championships Athletics report, with 128 medals. Ethiopia comes in second place with 72 medals. South Africa comes in third place with 21 medals. African athletes have exceptional speed, strength, and stamina, allowing them to dominate the sport on a global scale.

7. Rallying

African car rally

Motor rallies in Africa are well-known throughout the continent and around the world, making rallying one of the most popular sports in Africa. Rally enthusiasts enjoy the rugged African roads and off-road terrain. African rallies are regarded as the most difficult in the world, bringing together renowned and up-and-coming rally drivers.

Despite numerous challenges, such as a lack of adequate sponsorship, many rallying tournaments on the continent, the sport remains popular. Numerous newer and smaller corporate-sponsored rallying events have recently been held on a regular basis in various African countries.

According to the FIA, the world motorsport governing body, Uganda leads the African continent with 2754 points, while ranking 27th nationally. Rwanda is ranked second with 2124 points and 34th overall. Zimbabwe is ranked third in Africa and 38th overall, with 1701 points.

8. Basketball

Africa basketball

Basketball is one of Africa’s fastest-growing sports; in many African cities, you will see children wearing sweatshirts, vests, and t-shirts with the names of famous NBA players. Basketball training facilities are available at both public and private schools, allowing youth to improve their playing skills, particularly in high school basketball.

In recent years, the number of professional teams has increased, and many basketball clinics have been organized to improve basketball quality. Former NBA stars Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo are two of the most notable African-American basketball players.

Basketball is popular in other countries such as Tunisia, Angola, Ghana, Egypt, Kenya, Uganda, and Cameroon, but Nigeria remains at the top of the continent’s FIBA Men’s Basketball Rankings. Basketball is one of the Top 6 Sports for Workouts and one of the best indoor sports you can play.


These are Africa’s top eight most popular sports. Boxing, golf, netball, swimming, surfing, and tennis are also popular sports. Exercise has numerous advantages. Sports, in addition to aiding in the development of the body’s mental and physical health, instill discipline, teamwork, confidence, and personality.