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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 October 2007, 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK
Mbeki wants 'Bafana' name change
The South Africa national team
The South Africa national team are also known as the Bafana Bafana

South African President Thabo Mbeki has called for the national football team to drop its Bafana Bafana (The Boys, The Boys) nickname, saying it is unsuitable for the hosts of the 2010 World Cup.

Mbeki's governing African National Congress (ANC) party want the Springbok rugby team to lose its nickname.

The president said in a radio interview there should be a rethink about the names of all the national teams, including the women's football team Banyana Banyana (The Girls, The Girls).

"What kind of a name [Bafana Bafana] is it? I don't think it is fit for a senior national team or for the hosts of the 2010 Fifa World Cup," Mbeki told a South African radio station.

"We need to revisit the names of teams like Bafana Bafana, Banyana Banyana, Amaglug-glug [the under-23 football team]."

All the national sides used to be known as the Springboks during the whites-only apartheid era which ended in 1994, but most of the teams have since adopted new monickers such as the Proteas in cricket.

The one notable exception has been the rugby team but even their name is under threat after the ANC passed a resolution at a conference earlier this year for the Springbok title and emblem to be scrapped.

Team strip

Mbeki's call received support from former Bafana Bafana coach Jomo Sono who agreed the name was inappropriate.

Sono also urged a rethink on the team's strip which has changed colour on a number of occasions since apartheid.

"I support the president 100 percent. We also need to change the colours of the team and get something close to, or similar to the Boks, which is a source of national pride and represents the country," Sono said.

South Africa President Thabo Mbeki
President Mbeki wants the Bafana Bafana nickname to be dropped

"Everyone knows the Springbok is an African animal, and green is our grass in the fields here. But what does Bafana Bafana mean?

"The name came from a journalist as a nickname in an article [when South Africa was readmitted to world football] and it stuck.

"It was relevant then, but now we need a name that is representative of the country."

However Banyana Banyana's manager Fran Hilton Smith was cooler on the idea.

"It will be difficult to change the names and colours of the teams ... because they are synonymous with the team. People already know them by those names," she said.

Mbeki said it was important the public was involved in the names debate.

"The public should participate in a plan where we look for new names for our national teams," he said.

"I'm not saying we must call all our national teams Springboks, but we have to change the names, the emblems and the colours the teams wear, so that they can be recognised as representatives of South Africa."


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