The Herald, 2 February 1979
IT can only happen in Africa! To my knowledge, there is nowhere else in the world that belief in witchcraft plays such an important role in every walk of life.
It was through this belief in witchcraft that an incident occurred at Torwood Stadium on Sunday when Dynamos carried a ladder from Salisbury to scale the Risco ground fence instead of using the reserved gate for players and officials because they felt if they had done so they would have lost the game.
Firmly convinced that the official gate would have been “doctored” to put a spell on their players, Dynamos and their supporters opted to get into the ground by other means and a clash developed when the home team officials and their ground security guards tried to stop them from climbing over the fence.
Although Dynamos did in the end manage to gain entrance other than through the official gate, play was delayed for over 20 minutes and the whole incident left a sour taste, not only with the Torwood residents, but with the country as a whole.
The sad thing is that it’s not only Dynamos who are superstitious. The majority of the local teams believe in witchcraft.
It’s almost a weekly occurrence to see teams refusing to use their allotted dressing rooms, driving in cars right to the centre of the ground, refusing to have pictures taken before kick-off, sprinkling salt to nullify any “muti” that might have been prepared for the pitch by the opponents-one would think we were still in the 14th century.
LESSONS FOR TODAY
The play on the term “witchcraft” in soccer does not mean that it is prevalent in Africa. This is a global phenomenon. Call it “juju”, “muti”, ritual, magic or superstition, the fact remains that some sporting personalities are not confident that their talent has propelled them to the top.
Even if the story was written with a racial bias, international media has always reported about weird rituals on global soccer pitches, involving the best of the best like Cristiano Ronaldo who is believed to be superstitious.
Does “juju” or magic work in soccer? Some say it has a psychological impact on players in the opposing side who often play badly after “juju” ceremonies are performed by the other side.
Memory Mucherahohwa, former Dynamos player in his book “Soul of Seven Million Dreams” admits to the use of magic in soccer.
However, no magic can enhance the performance of a team, and no “juju” can improve a soccer player’s performance. Those who believe in magic are wasting their time. If magic works, then teams are wasting money buying expensive coaches and players because the “juju” would be adequate.
On the international arena, DW website writes in an article titled: “Superstitious soccer: weird rituals on the football pitch”: “Perhaps that’s why so many soccer stars and their trainers still follow certain rituals in the hope that the gods of fortune will smile down upon them.”
Some of the articles in international media include: “9 soccer superstitions in England, Spain and Italy”; “Why footballers love crazy rituals”; “The 5 weirdest Cristiano Ronaldo’s rituals”; “How rituals help footballers”, etc. So, it’s not Dynamos FC only.