Feet of the Chameleon

The Story of African Football

Ian Hawkey, 2009, Portico Books

Ian Hawkey’s book, which was published just before the first World Cup on the African continent is a kaleidoscopic view on the soccer history of Africa. When you are interested to learn more about African soccer the book is a good starting point to get information about all the different major topics which make you better understand the state and development of the game on the black continent. Topics like the myriads of youth academies, which make money out of the dreams of many kids and families, the constant drain of talent, so that the domestic leagues do not have a high enough quality to be interesting to the fans because they watch the best African players in the Premier League on TV, the distrust against home-grown coaches, so that always before major tournaments European or South American coaches are hired or the strong influence of mystics on the team, which replace the psychologists usually employed by European teams. All this is covered, mostly in a descriptive way woven into the continuous story of the performance of the national teams in the African Cup of Nations and World cup finals. Aside from the pure sport, there are also stories told how soccer was tied to politics, whether it was in the independence movement of Algeria, the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa or the rise of dictators like in Zaire.
The book is not going into depths to better understand the structural problems, like it was done in Ich werde rennen wie ein Schwarzer,… or in several issue of the Blizzard (#1,#3,#4,#5), but it allows you to find the topic or team you are interested and to dig deeper at a later time. Therefore “Feet of the Chameleon” is a good read, the stories are told very well and it provides a nice overview about the a parts of soccer history, which are hardly told in the mainstream media.

Biography: 0/3
History: 2/3
Background: 1/3
Tactics & Game philosophy: 0/3

Next book: Modernes Passspiel (German, March 27th)


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