Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No More Bafana Bafana?

We talked a few months ago about some of the interesting team names in Africa. Names like Ten and One Young Dribblers and Cape Coast Mysterious Dwarfs dot the continent.

One of the more interesting monikers for an African national team is 'Bafana Bafana' for the South African national team. The term means 'The Little Boys' and can be used as a cheer or as a representation of the team itself.

Now, South African president Thabo Mbeki has called for the national football team to drop its nickname, saying it's unsuitable for the hosts of the 2010 World Cup.

"What kind of a name [Bafana Bafana] is it? I don't think it is fit for a senior national team or for the hosts of the 2010 FIFA World Cup," Mbeki told a South African radio station.

"We need to revisit the names of teams like Bafana Bafana, Banyana Banyana (The Girls football team), Amaglug-glug [the under-23 football team]."

Springboks was the pseudonym used by South Africa's national teams during the whites-only apartheid era which ended in 1994, but most of the teams have since adopted new monikers such as the Proteas in cricket.

The one notable exception has been the rugby team but even their name is under threat after the ANC (Mbeki's ruling African National Congress party) passed a resolution at a conference earlier this year for the Springbok title and emblem to be scrapped.

Mbeki's call received support from former Bafana Bafana coach Jomo Sono who agreed the name was inappropriate.

Sono also urged a rethink on the team's strip which has changed color on a number of occasions since apartheid.

"I support the president 100 percent. We also need to change the colors of the team and get something close to, or similar to the Boks, which is a source of national pride and represents the country," Sono said.

"Everyone knows the Springbok is an African animal, and green is our grass in the fields here. But what does Bafana Bafana mean?

"The name came from a journalist as a nickname in an article [when South Africa was readmitted to world football] and it stuck.

"It was relevant then, but now we need a name that is representative of the country."

However Banyana Banyana's manager Fran Hilton Smith was cooler on the idea.

"It will be difficult to change the names and colors of the teams ... because they are synonymous with the team. People already know them by those names," she said.

Mbeki said it was important the public was involved in the names debate.

"The public should participate in a plan where we look for new names for our national teams," he said.

"I'm not saying we must call all our national teams Springboks, but we have to change the names, the emblems and the colors the teams wear, so that they can be recognized as representatives of South Africa."


Chxta said...

"What is in a name? A rose will still smell the same, even if it is called by another name!"

Bafana Bafana even if their name is changed would still be a bad team.

Anonymous said...

It's a bad team cause u think it's a bad team! In order for a national team to fully succeed it need the full support of the nation! I am proudly south african and therefore it will never matter how they preform good or bad I'll support them! Bafana bafana all the way world cup champs! Let's make history!