Connect with us


How Some African Sports Personalities Roll Out in Pre- Match Rituals

Rituals are an essential part of sports tradition adopted to mentally prepare players. Many sports personalities have mental-readiness tactics that they adhere to in their daily lives and follow closely.

For some, it’s identity like Cristiano Ronaldo who gets a fresh haircut before every game or Zlatan Ibrahimovic who took the jersey number 9 from Antony Martial. Number 9 is the striker’s mark. There is no doubting Martial had to step away from that one.

Others, it’s just downright to zero compromises like Tottenham’s Danny Rose who eats pasta Bolognese the night before a game.

Here is how some Africans have taken match rituals to a personal level.


Mr. Smell good


Getty Images

Andre Ayew’s pre-match ritual is to have some perfume on. In an interview with BBC World Service last year, the Ghanaian International admitted to having to wear perfume or cologne before a match.

At the 2017 Gabon AFCON, Ayew was also caught on camera sprinkling an unknown substance on the pitch during a match warm up. He started from the sideline, said a prayer, and commenced along the field’s center line splashing a liquid-like substance across the pitch. Africa called it ‘Juju’ either way, it helps prepare the Ghanaian for battle. And who says a player can’t share some cologne, if it was?


Last to enter the pitch


Getty Images

Former Ivorian International Kolo Toure insists on being the last player to enter the pitch before a match kick-off. Unfortunately for Kolo, playing ‘Captain Phillips’ one day earned him a yellow card when he got on during active play without the referee’s permission.

His match ritual was delayed by former teammate William Gallas who needed extra treatment before coming on. Not that Gallas is to blame, but tradition is tradition and for the Ivorian, it is somewhat an imitation of no man getting left behind.




Getty Images

South African cricketer Neil McKenzie would tape his bat to the ceiling and insisted all toilet seats in the dressing room be put down before going out to bat. Somehow it is hard to figure out the rationale here but while we can understand the ceiling ritual, the toilet seats, not so much. But oh well, whatever gets this star through a phenomenal game.


Hennessey please


Getty Images

Paul Pogba drinks Hennessey before each game courtesy of his new girlfriend. Well, this guy has some good taste. Is it why he plays ever so smoothly, gliding through the midfield like some good cognac gliding down his throat? His attempts on goal for Manchester United this season have not been so much on point nevertheless, don’t blame Manchester United’s bad day at the office on Pogba’s good taste in cognac. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.




Getty Images

Senegal International Sadio Mane says, he recites a prayer before every match. A highly priced player – Africa’s most expensive at that – he still stays true to his tradition and humble beginnings.

In his Interview with BBC World Service, the Liverpool player of the year said, [perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“I pray because I am Muslim.”[/perfectpullquote]


Music to calm the nerves


Getty Images

Don’t we all love a good tune to help us destruct from the pressures of high expectations? Kenya and Tottenham midfielder Victor Wanyama listens to music as it helps him relax and prepare for a game.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“When traveling to the stadium for league matches, I usually put on my headphones and listen to some music, mostly from Sauti Sol or Avril, wonderful stuff…,”[/perfectpullquote]

Wanyama said.

Did not see Sauti Sol and Avril put in the same sentence nevertheless, whatever is good music for the ears, is good for the mind and relaxing for the body.

Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure is another music ritualist. To top it off, the Ivorian from the land of The Elephants – big, untamable, and strong-willed – is a gentle soul. Go figure.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“I like to listen to quiet and slow music ahead of matches, as I do in my general life,”[/perfectpullquote]

Toure said.

“Music that is more aggressive or loud, which might be considered motivational before a match, makes me nervous and gives me a headache. I prefer to listen to something that calms me down rather than winds me up before a big game.”


Wear same socks the entire tournament


Getty Images

Serena Williams believes much of her winning ways are as a result of closely followed routines. For the 27-year-old these include; bringing her shower sandals to the court, tying her shoelaces a specific way, and bouncing the ball five times before her first serve and twice before her second.

The three-time Wimbledon champion will even wear the same pair of socks during a tournament run. Nothing wrong with keeping the same socks on as long as this tennis queen keeps them as fresh as her Grand Slam wins. Either way, who dares to criticize a sports household name and role model?



Featured photo: Getty Images

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Translate »