Football: Witchcraft, a common practice in Burundi
Football occupies a very important place in Burundian society. It is a sport which is practiced throughout the country and which attracts a lot of young people. The championship teams recruit among this youth. For some players, coaches and club presidents, you have to use all possible means, including witchcraft, to get good results.
The Burundi football championship has sixteen teams in the first division and twenty teams in the second division. There are also lower divisions that supply players to Burundi’s elite teams. Most teams in Burundi do not have the means to recruit seasoned players from the sub-region, and must therefore be content with local talent. Despite this, there is a great rivalry in the championship. As proof, it has been more than ten years since any team has won the championship two years in a row. Some presidents of clubs and players indulge in sorcery, hoping to get good results.
On May 13, 2023, in Gitega, the political capital of Burundi, during the quarter-finals of the President’s Cup between Musongati and Messager Ngozi, Messager players were searched from head to toe to see if they were not wearing grey-grey. Football enthusiasts contacted by Sport News Africa indicate that this practice should be banned. For them, this preliminary session of searching the players before the matches is a kind of mistreatment which disturbs the athletes.
Players, coaches and club presidents believe in witchcraft
“ In our team, witchcraft was a common practice. All players were obliged to respect the instructions of our witch doctor, whether you like it or not. Even the president of our team encouraged us to indulge in this practice. For my part, I did not believe it but I had to enter the field with gray-gris. There were even cases where some players who are fighting for a starting spot in the team cast bad spells on each other. I was myself a victim twice and I had to stop my career earlier than expected , ”Regrets Ndihokubwayo Adil, former Vital’o player.
The current president of Vital’o, Evariste Mukurarinda, told Sport News Africa that these practices no longer exist in his club, but that witchcraft is a reality in many clubs.
“ I was lucky to have a coach who is against these obscure practices. There are players in our club who believe in witchcraft but since no one among the leaders believes in it, the players are forced in spite of themselves to follow the drawn line. Those who try to engage in these practices are expelled from the club ,”Says Mukurarinda.
Jimmy Ndayizeye, coach of Messager Ngozi and former coach of the national team, regrets that there are still coaches, players and club leaders who still believe in witchcraft in the 21st century. ” I don’t believe it at all. I still know some coaches who believe that witchcraft can help to achieve positive results. In the national team, in my time as a player and as a coach, I have never seen that ”.
Another staff member of the national team confirms Ndayizeye’s words but indicates that there are players who consult witchdoctors privately.
“ There are national team players playing in Europe who regularly pay wizards and consult them when they are in difficulty. Unfortunately, some of them later found that they were rolled in flour ,”He reveals.
A member of the executive committee of the Burundi Football Federation who requested anonymity indicates that the issue of witchcraft will be on the agenda of the general assembly of the FFB scheduled for the end of May. He specifies that this is a practice that is beginning to become widespread and that a solution must be found quickly to prevent the phenomenon from becoming more widespread.
Source: Sport News Africa