HAPPY NEW YEARS!
I heard someone the other day asking ‘where are you going to be on New Years Eve?’ and it took me a few minutes to realize what they were talking about. People here have been referring to the World Cup as ‘2010’ since it was announced it was being held here in SA, and since it’s now over that means that 2010 is also over, hence the New Years! I thought it was pretty funny.
It has been really amazing to be here for this World Cup. Whether or not you’re a soccer fan, it has been great to see South Africans really rallying behind their team and also welcoming all the visitors. I’m really, really proud of the country for pulling this off – there were so many naysayers along the way. It’s been pretty moving watching South Africans put flags on their cars, wear their yellow Bafana Bafana jerseys every Friday, doing the fan walk by the thousands down to the stadium on game days, packing the bars and fan fests, singing their national anthem on the trains home from games and just generally showing their gees (spirit). I’m pretty darn happy with the outcome (viva España!!) but no matter who had won it would have been pretty cool to be part of all this. I know it sounds a bit cheesy, but seriously, it’s been great! Who knew soccer could give me such a warm, fuzzy feeling? 😉
Whew. I never realized that being a sports fan could be such hard work.
I’ve followed all sorts of sports over the years when I’ve been able to – watched Wimbledon religiously, sat glued to the tv for even the most obscure Olympic sports, gotten up at odd hours to watch March Madness from halfway across the globe, sat on the edge of my seat while my team failed to make the Superbowl (again), cheered madly for the underdog at the World Series, danced in the streets as the local team won the European Cup, egged on rowdy hockey players, and cheered my adopted country on to victory in the other World Cup (rugby). I’ve even met friends to have a pint and watch the soccer before work during the last World Cup.
But I’ve never been as caught up in the sporting event fever as I have been here in SA. It’s almost impossible to ignore it, actually. Even friends who are avowed soccer haters have gotten into the spirit. We’ve taken the train into town with blowing vuvuzelas and joined the masses heading to the matches, staked out our spot with the rowdies at the fan parks, and spent numerous afternoons and evenings at sports pubs cheering loudly for our teams. As much as I love a big event, however, I must admit that it’s taking a lot out of me. It’s hard work having to go out and watch the games with friends every night, drinking a few pints and cheering loudly. I’m still watching all the games, but they’ve worn me down a bit. Maybe it’s the fact that all the teams I was cheering loudest for are out of the tournament already – it was heartbreaking to see Bafana Bafana lose, even though it wasn’t a surprise, and then the US’s loss last week – while I was happy that Ghana was able to keep the hopes of the continent alive and I’ll definitely be cheering for them in their match against Uruguay (my least favorite team), it was sad to see all the US supporters looking so dejected at the loss! But it’s actually been a bit of a relief not to have as much of a vested interest any more – now I can just sit back and enjoy the party! I’ll be ready when July 11 rolls around, though – the World Cup has really been all that anyone has been doing/talking about/watching for the last few weeks (actually, longer – the build up here in SA has been going on for at least a year). And unlike the tourists here visiting, we actually have to try and hold down our day jobs at the same time!
Ah, tough life, hey? Don’t you feel sorry for little ‘ole me? Ok, I’ll stop complaining. I have a match to watch tonight!
The World Cup has finally arrived.
Ever since I moved to SA, the WC has been on everyone’s minds. Most people I know were more irritated than anything about the event – traffic, tourists, high airfare, etc. But now that the opening day is here, I’m so glad that everyone seems to have embraced the madness! I SO wish I was there for the opening matches – Nick sending me updates and pictures from where he is watching it down at the Waterfront with friends, and he says the vibe is just electric.I’m sporting my bright yellow Bafana Bafana shirt (supporting SA’s team) today, and will catch the US-England match at the Brit club tomorrow, but it’s just not the same as being in SA. Especially since I’m supposed to working – I have to try to figure out how to get back to the hotel to catch the match!
I hope all of you back in the States watch a match or two – especially the ones in Cape Town! You’ll get to see a bit of the beautiful country I call home. If you haven’t already, check out photos and updates on fifa.com. I can’t wait to get back on Monday!