Girabola2018 / 19: Angola's most national event resists crises and maintains regularity

Girabola2018 / 19: Angola's most national event resists crises and maintains regularity

Considered the most national sporting event in Angola, because it is played annually by teams from different provinces, Girabola maintains its regularity despite the crises that have devastated the country.

When Rui Mingas, then Secretary of State for Physical Education and Sports, was set up in 1979, there were certainly few believers in his longevity, since there had been no such championship in four years.

His designation, however, comes from previous years and was awarded in 1967 by radio broadcaster Rui de Carvalho to differentiate the Angola football championship from other then ultra-marine provinces (as the Portuguese colonies were called Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Sao Tome)

After 39 years, even without the exuberance of the past, the Girabola continues to affirm itself as a true factor of national unity and a catalyst for values ​​and attitudes, such as tolerance, respect for difference, inclusion and solidarity, well anchored in the principles fundamental aspects of modern Olympism.

In Angola, regardless of the place, it is impossible to be indifferent to him, since the competition itself is not consubstantiated in the many days of the spinning of the ball on the lawn, but, in the uninterrupted moments of conviviality of people from the most hidden places, in the source of investment possibilities and in expanding the country's exposure.

Even though Angola is less than four years old, Girabola has faithfully walked parallel to the country: it has suffered the same crises and enjoyed the golden moments of the country.

An example of this dates back to 1993 and 1994. The event was deprived of two of its distinguished participants from the province of Huambo (Benfica and Petro) due to the armed conflict. Already between 2008 and 2014, the golden period of the national economy, the Girabola reached "the pinnacles" competitive, fruit of the investments made by the clubs.

On the eve of the start of its 39th edition, Angolans remain united in the songs, prayers and wishes resulting from the spectacle provided by the Girabola, whose teams, from the highest rated to the least, inflame feelings in the pursuit of "sport," I said.

A perennial journey

Regardless of the quality of Angolan football, there is, however, unanimity regarding the importance of Girabola as a sporting event that brings together the most diverse feelings of the population.

Throughout his career, he has often been threatened, sometimes by armed conflict, sometimes by financial constraints; two factors that would almost annihilate the competition, due to lack of teams.

The history of Girabola shows that this proof remains beyond time and beyond the crisis, because, as a result of the wisdom of its leaders of the time, managed to overcome the adversities of a country whose national independence resulted in an unprecedented armed conflict.

Since the days when teams had to be escorted by the army on their journeys, when the most valuable players signed contracts for an electro-domestic, and the game prizes were "small" baskets, the ball in fields without grass and without benches -, this always rolled.

At the height of the armed conflict, between 1996 and 2001, Huambo, Benfica and Petro, Bié, Sporting, Moxico, then 11 Bravos, Cuando-Cubango, Chicoil FC, Malanje, Cambondo and Cuanza Sul, of Gabela's ARA, the Girabola came to represent the hope and joy stolen from the people by the roaring of cannons.

Since its first edition in 1979, times have changed, there is no doubt. But the will of the Angolans to see the ball spinning in the country's fields, this is still the same as always, undoubtedly.

From founders to illustrious forgotten

On December 8, 1979, Girabola was kicked off with 24 teams registered for the country's 17 provinces, as Bengo province was only to leave Luanda a year later.

It was the event with more competitors and the most national of all, since the provinces, like never happened again, had the joy of hosting the games of the first national championship in the post-independence period.

In their debut year, the teams were grouped in sets of six, a format that would be changed the following year, in which the number of associations fell to 14, with the relegation of the last 10 places of the previous championship.

The formations of 1º de Agosto, Benguela National, TAAG, Palancas do Huambo, Estrela Vermelha (Mambroa), FC of Uíge, Constructors of Uíge, Académica do Lobito, Sport of Chela, Railroad of Huíla, Diabos Verdes (Sporting de Luanda) , Santa Rita de Moçamedes, Sassamba da Lunda Sul and Sagrada Esperança occupied, in this order, the first 14 places.

The last 10 places were Luta SC from Cabinda, FC Mbanza Congo, Kuando Kubango Gymnasium, Xangongo from Cunene, Naval from Porto Amboim, Diabos Negros, Makotas from Malanje, Vitória from Bié, Juventude do Kunje and 14 de Abril.

Some of these founders of the Girabola passed from illustrious to forgotten, as are the cases of Benguela National, runner-up in 1979, and Benfica of Huambo, runner-up in 1980, 1981 and 1984.

The list of forgotten ones is extensive, being able to include in it the Sport of Chela, 3º in 1985, Railroad of Huíla, 3º in 1986 and 2º in 1988, Sport of the Eka, 3º in 1993, Independent of the Tombwa, 3º in 1994, Atletico do Namibe, 3rd in 1997, Petro do Huambo, 3rd in 1987, 2000, 2001 and 2003 and Benfica in Luanda, 3rd in 2009.

Of these teams, Huila Railroad (1991), Eka Sport (1996) and Benfica do Huambo (1997) are the ones that are the longest years of the great national soccer team, while those with less time of absence are Benfica de Luanda (2016), Atletico do Namibe (2013) and Benguela National (2012).

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