As African nations bow out of the World Cup, having inspired and delighted millions with their tenacity and skill, The African Game sets out to document the road to the World Cup and what African football means in Africa
The African Game is a photographic journal showing how football bleeds into everyday life: matters of spirituality, fashion, passion and belonging. Many of the images seem to have no direct connection to football at all and perhaps that is the point.
Football, like no other sport, comes to mean everything. Effortlessly and regularly it lifts entire nations on a wave and sooner or later leaves them dashed on a rock someplace between their hopes and their fears. It holds out the chance of equality, when a team like Ghana can progress further than the mighty United States but every success only fuels the inevitable depths of despondency that will hit every team but one.
Alongside these often grainy and informal shots, are two revealing and thoughtful essays on the meaning of football for Africans by Africans. They, like the photographs, are a world away from the slick professionalism of the beautiful game as it is played out in hi-tech stadia. Ironically, the book has been published by Puma — but to their credit — they have taken only the lightest touch, leaving a book that uses football to explore what it means to be African in all its complexity.