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Sports in South Africa
The most popular sports in South Africa. Photo/ TECHSPO Cape Town.
  • South Africa is known for its stunning landscapes, amazing culture and love for sports
  • Cricket, rugby and football are some of the sports dominating the scene in South Africa
  • South Africa hosed the 2010 FIFA World Cup, a moment that will be fondly remembered for generations to come

Sports in South Africa have played a significant role in uniting people, promoting national pride and letting individuals showcase their talents.

The most watched sports in South Africa are football, rugby and cricket, with a significant following for each sport. These sports, which are integral to the country’s sporting culture, represent different aspects of the diverse population. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the most popular sports in South Africa.

10.  Basketball


Basketball is a popular sport in South Africa. Photo/ International Wheelchair Basketball Federation.

Basketball has enjoyed a storied presence in South Africa since early 1900s and has successfully created a buzz, especially among the youth. The Basketball National League stands as the zenith of professional basketball in South Africa and has several teams competing with passion while drawing large crowds.

9. Golf 

Golf has had an illustrious history in South Africa as the sports dates back to the late 1800s. The country is now one of the best golfing nations in the world (for men at least) and has produced amazing talents such as Gary Player, whose name is etched in the annals of golf history.

Gary Player

Gary Player. Photo/ Daily Express.

8. Tennis 

Tennis was introduced in South Africa in the late 1800s and is enjoyed by a huge number of people across all age groups. As tennis’ popularity continues to grow, the sport is solidifying its place in the list of the top ten most popular sports in South Africa. The country continues to host major national and international tournaments.

7. Netball 

Netball’s roots in South Africa run deep, with its introduction in the early 20th century. Netball initially attracted female participants but has since attracted male competitors and is currently one of the most popular sports in South Africa. The Telkom National League represents the pinnacle of netball in the country and boasts several amazing players.

6. Hockey 

Introduced in late 1800s, hockey has carved a unique space for itself in the South African sports landscape. South Africa has made significant strides in the international hockey scene, with its teams participating in the Olympics and Hockey World Cup. Players like Pietie Coetzee have left an indelible mark on the sport, inspiring many young talents.

Pietie Coetzee

Pietie Coetzee. Photo/ YouTube.

5. Swimming 

South Africa boasts favourable climate and stunning coastlines, which have made swimming a popular sport in the country. Swimming as a sport boasts a high number of participants in South Africa, hence becoming a staple in the country.

4. Athletics 

Athletics has a rich history in South Africa, which dates back to the late 1800s. The country has produced several world-class athletes over the years who have excelled on the global stage. South African runners such as Caster Semenya will never be forgotten by athletics fans worldwide for their impressive performance on the big stage.

3. Cricket 

South Africa is one of the few countries in Africa with a huge cricket fan base. Just like football and rugby, the sport was introduced in the 19th century by the British forces. The first cricket match recorded in South Africa took place in 1808 in Cape Town and the country made their official international debut at the 1992 World Cup. Jacques Kallis is one of the most popular cricket players from South Africa.

2. Rugby

South Africa

South Africa rugby. Photo/ SA Rugby.

Well, you can’t talk about sports in South Africa and fail to mention rugby. According to Sports Foundation, rugby is more than just a sport in South Africa as it represents resilience, strength and unity.

South Africa’s rugby team, commonly known as the Springboks, holds a special place in the hearts of millions. It was founded in 1891 and has won the Rugby World Cup four times – in 1995, 2007, 2019 and 2023.

1. Football 

Football is deeply ingrained in South Africa’s sporting culture, uniting people from different communities. It is estimated that football was introduced in South Africa in the 1860s and has enjoyed widespread popularity, and international successes bolstering national pride.

South Africa hosed the 2010 FIFA World Cup, a moment that will be fondly remembered for generations to come. The country’s top-tier football league is the Premier Soccer League (PSL), with fans passionately supporting their favorite teams.

Abraham Odhiambo is an avid sports fan who loves to write about football, boxing and wrestling. He's a big supporter of Manchester United. He's pursuing a bachelor's degree in Communication and Media at Egerton University.

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