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The Big 3 Sports in South Africa

South Africans are extremely passionate about sports.

While many different sports are played in South Africa, this post will focus on what is known as The Big Three” – football (soccer), rugby, and cricket.

The Big 3 Sports in South Africa

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Also known as soccer, football is the most popular team sport in South Africa.

The events are a lively atmosphere – with the sounds of the vuvuzela (a plastic horn), homemade instruments, and singing.


The men’s national soccer team is Bafana Bafana (“The Boys”) and the women’s national soccer team is Banyana Banyana (“The Girls”).

South Africa’s best clubs play in the Premier Soccer League (PSL). The Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates from Soweto are legendary rival teams that draw huge crowds to their matches.

Soccer World South Africa

Read Soccer World: South Africa: Explore the World Through Soccer for a fun visit to the Rainbow Nation.

Make your own vuvuzela horn.


Rugby is another popular team sport in South Africa.


Teams of 15 players each try to run or kick the ball across the opponent’s goal or kick it up through the posts.

The Springboks (or the “Boks”) are the national rugby team playing in the national colors of green and gold. Their emblems are the springbok (a medium-sized antelope and the national animal) and the king protea (the national flower).

The 2016 Summer Olympics was the first time for Rugby sevens, a type of rugby in which teams are made of seven players instead of 15.  Rugby union hasn’t been played in the Olympics since 1924.

To play rugby at home with kids, check out these easy modifications to the rules and equipment.


Cricket is played using a bat and a ball. There are two teams of 11 players each who score points by running between two sets of wickets (posts). The team that scores the most points wins.


Watch a cricket tutorial. You may even want to buy a cricket set and set up a neighborhood game!

The South African men’s and women’s national cricket teams are called the Proteas, named after the South African national flower.

Cricket has only been played in the Olympics once – in Paris 1900.

*It is important to note that there is a push for the country’s main sports (especially rugby and cricket) to create more opportunities for black players – from childhood to club and national levels.

Welcome to our Olympics for Kids series!

The Olympics are a wonderful opportunity to teach kids about the world and explore cultures together.
You can find more about other sports/games from various countries thanks to our participating bloggers: Exploring Indonesian Badminton – Multicultural Kid Blogs
Popular Summer Sports in USSR – Creative World of Varya
Handball, France and the Olympics – Lou Messugo
Capoeira: a martial art with a great beat – Brynn in Brazil
Copa América: We Are the Champions – La clase de Sra. DuFault
Football in the Netherlands: The Men in Orange – Expat Life with a Double Buggy 
Summer sports in Latvia – Let the Journey Begin
Valuable Lessons From The Olympic Sports to Kids – Hispanic Mama
Fencing with Ibtihaj Muhammad – Kid World Citizen
Puerto Rican Olympians – Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes

Grab our Summer Games Unit activity pack to learn more about the world and have fun during the Olympics.