They don’t call it ‘the beautiful game’ for nothing. For some reason, intangible to many, there is something amazingly poetic about 22 men, on a football field, making a ball do things that go beyond the magical. It is the culmination of so much that happens before and beyond that very field of green grass and white lines and it can be an experience of so much beauty.
There is an army of passionate souls, all working towards that 90 minutes (plus extra time, if need be) and their eleven men (and women) on that field. The training, the planning, the strategy …. a chess game on green grass with the potential to break hearts or inspire pure ecstasy. For each player, the game is the result of a lifetime of perseverance, determination, commitment and, sometimes, a little luck.
The boy, barefoot, kicking a ball made out wrapped plastics, as he sprints across a dusty field. Another boy, in the garden with his father, passing a plastic ball, back and forth. These boys come from different places and spaces. From the poor to the not so poor, when on that field they are equal. Somewhere the dream is realised. Many try, only a few succeed. And for those few, they shall run onto the field, with their nation’s flag on their chest and the hopes and dreams of millions, on their backs and in their hearts.
Every World Cup, the attention of millions shifts to a true feast of football. Gluttonous, we gorge ourselves with pickings from this ample buffet, stuffing ourselves with exquisite play, in celebration of our teams. For some of us, there is the privilege of watching from within the stadiums where these games are played. Regardless of where or how, we shall watch, whether in the stadiums, our homes, community centres or the neighbourhood shebeen, chop bar or café, we watch in full voice.
In 2010, these millions shall converge on South Africa. It is journey that has been filled with drama, intrigue and suspense and every day, the 2010 World Cup comes closer. Roads and stadiums are still being built. Teams are gradually qualifying. People, all over the world, wait to hear whether they can get tickets.
Since we found out that South Africa would be hosting the 2010 World Cup, all we seem to talk about is….. Politics… Administrative challenges… Social upheaval… Traffic jams…Construction… Delays… Occasional triumph… Indecision… Confusion… Anxiety… Accusations… Reassurance…
Everyone has a theory. Every day there is something new.
The pessimists see nothing but dark clouds floating on the horizons, gently coming our way.
The optimists see nothing but bright, blue expansive skies.
In the end, none of it will matter.
On Friday, June 11th, 2010, the host nation, Bafana Bafana, will open the floodgates. They will run onto the green of the aptly-named Soccer City, surrounded by an ocean of green and yellow, driven on by a symphony of vuvuzelas blown in cacophonic harmony. From that first whistle, the first touch of that leather ball, that moment, nothing else will matter, but football. Marriages shall be tested. Employers shall be challenged. Friendships will be made and lost. All because of football.
We shall submerge ourselves, lose ourselves and finally discover ourselves on the journey to the finals. It will be a full month of football that will go by too quickly. And on Sunday, July 11th, 2010, in the space where it all began, the last two teams standing shall face up, like gladiators in the arena, to determine who shall rightfully call themselves World Champions for the next four years.
All the drama, all the doomsday predictions, shall be irrelevant and the naysayers shall be silent because it is all about the football. That is all that matters. As long as we remember that, each one can contribute to creating an experience that will last forever in all our hearts.
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