Channel: Before The 'D'...Association Football around the world, 1863-1937.
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Some landmarks in the growth of football in Africa


I am doing African football something of a disservice by condensing the development of the game across a huge and culturally diverse geographical area over a period of 60 years into one post. This is intended as just an overview. However, 

the history of African football is, generally speaking, rather recent, particularly in terms of international competition - only South Africa and Egypt had played international football during the pre 1937 era. 
The history of football in the region which later became South Africa is covered elsewhere. It is worthy to note, however, that football was played by Europeans in the ‘Cape’ district in the pre-association days, and that organised soccer was being played by both settlers and the indigenous population by 1880.

Football was introduced into Africa via the usual sources- firstly European military/ naval or commercial visitors and later colonial institutions and schools spread the game. The  major colonising powers were  France, Belgium and Great Britain. 
The list below is not exhaustive- I have looked at various sources and identified key dates in the development of the game in across Africa. 

1870s – Zanzibar 
European employees of The Eastern Telegraph Company were playing informal football matches in Zanzibar in the 1870s. The game was adopted by the locals, who began organizing their own teams. 

1897- Oran (Algeria) 
French colonists were responsible for founding 

 Club des Joyeusetés d'Oran in 1894, and a football section was established in 1897.  

1890s –Cape Coast (Gold Coast / Ghana) 
 British sailors played the first football in what is now known as Ghana.

1902- Calabar (Nigeria)
Rev. James Luke, a Scotsman, introduced football at Hope Waddell Training Institution in the tradition of  muscular Christianity.

1903 - Cape Coast (Gold Coast / Ghana)
Ghana's first club,  

Excelsior was founded by Mr. Briton, the Head Teacher of Philip Quaicoe Government Boys School in Cape Coast.

1904- Tunisia
French colonists founded Football Club de Tunis , later  changing its name to Racing Club.

1904 - Calabar (Nigeria)
 In June 1904 the first competitive football match in Nigeria was played between Hope Waddell Training Institution and the crew of the British gunboat HMS Thistle. The match was won by the Nigerians, 3-2. 

1905- Conakry (Guinea)

The French founded Union Sportive,  Artistique et de Tir, which included a football section.

1906 - Calabar (Nigeria)
What seems to be the first tournament held outside the Southern Cape region  was played in Calabar. The competition was called The Beverley Cup (the cup was donated by Captain Beverly, an officer of the Colonial Government). The first edition was won by the Southern Nigeria Regiment (which was, incidentally, the regiment to which Captain Beverly was attached).

1910s-Lagos (Nigeria)
 Frederick Mulford, affectionately known as  Baba Eko (our father)- a British Commercial Agent, organised matches at Lagos racecourse, initially for Europeans but later extended invitations to Nigerian teams. Mulford also coached local schoolboys at  

at CMS Grammar School (Nigeria’s premier high school).

1907- Cairo (Egypt) 
The club Al Ahly (National Club) was formed. The first chairman was an Englishman, Mitchell Ince, but in 1910 the club limited their membership  exclusively to Egyptians and becme a focus for nationalists.

1911-  Belgian Congo (DRC)

Ligue de Football du Katanga was founded, but was open only to teams of Europeans.

1911-12 North Africa
FC Blidéen (of Blida in Algeria) won a tournament for teams from French colonies in North Africa.

1911- Cairo (Egypt) 
 Belgian lawyer George Marzbach formed Qasr El-Neel Club , which became the present day Zamalek Sports Club.

1912- Leopoldville (Belgian Congo/DRC)
Football played by Europeans .

1913- Brazzaville (French Equatorial Africa/ Congo)

Football played by Europeans .

1913- Morrocco
Union Sportive Marocaine is founded, but locals are not included in the membership. 

1913-Dakar (French West Africa/ Senegal)

French colonists were playing regular matches in Dakar by 1913, and the organization Union Sportive et Artistique de Dakar was founded. 

1914- Brazzaville 
A match was played between white teams representing French Equatorial Africa and  Belgian Congo.

1917- Cairo

Sultan Hussein Cup - the 1st 4 editions of this 'Egyptian' tournament were won by British military teams.

1917- Leopoldville (Belgian Congo/DRC)
 Father Raphael de la Kethulle arrived in Leopoldville. Tata Raphael, as he was known to the locals,  actively promoted Congolese football, forming clubs and associations  for Africans . He was also responsible for establishing a decent pitch on what had been swampland near a church.  In 1919 he founded the Association Royale Sportive Congolaise.
Fr, Raphael's influence on Congo football extended into the 1930s, and he was  responsible for developing  Stade Reine Astrid, completed in 1937.

First championship won by FC Castermans.

A formal association (later known as Federation de Football Association du Pool) was formed. Football in both Belgian Congo and French Equatorial Africa remained strictly racially segregated, and organized football remained the preserve of Europeans.

 Egypt play in the Antwerp Olympics. They beat Belgium 4-2 in a friendly before the Olympics. In the tournament  itself they lost 2-1 to Italy and beat Yugoslavia 4-2.

1920- Accra (Gold Coast / Ghana)
1920- North Africa
The first Championnat d'Association de Football Nord-Africain is held, featuring teams from the french colonies of Algiers, Oran, Constantine, Tunis and Morrocco.

1923-Leopoldville /Brazzaville 
Stanley Pool Championship introduced . The competition was exclusively for Europeans.

1920s –Sudan
At Atbara employees of the Sudan Railways co, introduce the game to the area.

1921-22 - Cairo
Zamalek won Prince Farouk's Cup, the 1st Egyptians only edition of the national cup competition.

1922- 23- Cairo

Zamalek (Mokhtalat) won the first Cairo league competition.

1923- French West Africa 
In what are now the nations of Mauritania, Senegal, Mali,Guinea,Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Benin and Niger, the French Colonial Authorities introduced compulsory physical education in schools, introducing more African boys to football.

1923- Egypt joins FIFA

1924- Paris
A second Olympic outing for Egypt. They beat Hungary 3-0 and were then eliminated in a 5-0 defeat to Sweden.

Étoile du Congo founded as Club Scolaire Brazzavillois.

1926 - Zanzibar 
Zanzibar Football Association founded and the  Zanzibari Cup first contested. 

1927- Yaounde (Cameroon) 

Celebrations to mark the completion of the Douala to Yaounde railway connection included 2 racially segregated football matches played at Yaounde. Yaounde Africans defeated Douala Africans and their European counterparts shared a draw.

Federation de Football Association du Pool affiliates with the Belgian FA.

1928- Leopoldville /Brazzaville
First edition of  the Stanley Pool Cup

Egypt reach the Olympic semi finals but are thrashed 11-3 by Italy in the bronze medal match.

1929- Brazzaville
The Native Sports Federation founded. 2 years later the Federation came under the control of the colonial authorities. These authorities insisted that African players should play without boots, even though some of the more established teams had been playing in boots for a number of years. 

1930- Brazzaville
16 years after white teams from Brazzaville and Leopoldville had first met, black players repeated the feat as L' Etoile played Leopoldville's Mutuelle.

Etoile de Poto-Poto won a league competition for African teams.

1930-31- North Africa
First edition of the Coupe d'Afrique du Nord  won by Club des Joyeusetés (Oran- Algeria).

Federation Athletique Congolaise, organized by the Catholic church, broadens the opportunities for African players to participate in organized football.

1934- Naples
Africa's first World Cup participation- Egypt are beaten 4-2 by Hungary.

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