World Cup Winners and Losers… Part 1

Wow! Did the World Cup hangover hit me big time yesterday…  I’m still in a dwaal! My sports tour is officially over, and when people ask me what am I going to do, I despondently reply“the menial things in life like go to work, do some gym…” Back to reality!

Going to the final on Sunday was unreal, and I think the magnitude of the event has still not registered properly in my mind. I went to a soccer world cup final – probably the single biggest event in the world – what one-off event could possibly be bigger??

Much has been said & written in the news around the world about the success of the World Cup and what it has done for South Africa and for the unity of the country, none better described than by my mate Squeaky, whose creative headgear on Sunday was only bettered by the outrageous attempt by some whack job to plant a woollen hat on the world cup trophy!

From a soccer sense this was a world cup of unexpected results. This was the first final without one of Brazil, Germany, Argentina, or Italy! Spain were the best team, rightly so, as every time they stepped on the field they endeavoured to show the world why soccer is called the ‘beautiful game’. In a world cup surprisingly devoid of the expected superstars such as Ronaldo and Rooney, Uruguay’s Diego Forlan rose to the occasion and was rightly awarded the player of the tournament with some sumptuous goals and creative brilliance.  And bet you didn’t realise that the only unbeaten team of the whole comp was the minnows of football: New Zealand’s ‘All Whites’. How ‘bout them apples!

I am sure that in the weeks ahead much more will be written and debated about the successes and (limited) failures of South Africa 2010. Not much more to add here. When I lay in bed on Sunday trying to get over the excitement of the day, I thought about the best and worst of WC2010. I’m sure everyone has their favourite moments. Here is my take on the winners of the WC2010:

Madiba Magic – Just after the last performers ran off after the closing ceremony, I said to my mate how awesome would it be for Mandela to make a surprise appearance,  and right then and there, he rolled out on his golf cart, Colgate smile and all! The stadium erupted for South Africa’s most favourite ubabamkhulu (grandfather)!! Even though he was a fair distance away I could almost sense his magnetic and empowering aura. This man has done it all for South Africa, and then some! If it wasn’t for the Madiba Magic, we would all have been watching this WC2010 on our tv’s… Happy Bday Madiba for July 18!

The Organisers –  give massive credit where its due. They put together a monumental effort! Amongst other things I reckoned that transport would be the hindrance to a successful world cup. Especially in Joburg. However, barring some initial teething problems especially during the opening game, there were almost minimal complaints in the press thereafter as the organisers rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in ensuring fans got to/from the games and around the cities hassle free. I took a spin on the Gautrain and even caught a train from Park Station for the first time in 15 years! Very impressed indeed. Big ups to Comrade Danny Jordaan and his LOC!

The Police. Dinkum! In recent times SAPS & their ugly cousins, the Metro cops, have been rightly vilified for their lazy attitude, corrupt activities and general lack of performance. With the tag of crime capital of the world preceding WC2010, the police had a job to do to shed this deserved image, and what a job they did! WC2010 came and went almost incident free and with NO major problems or crises.  Thieves were tracked down, arrested and charged at a speed usually reserved for orders at the local Chicken Licken.  Nothing inspires a person to do his job like a bit of self-pride and respect. Hopefully, all these plaudits will give each and every policeman the motivation they need to carry on doing a great job. This is one legacy of the World Cup that really needs to carry on, we were ALL made to feel safe, and now the Bokgata have no excuses as they have proved it CAN BE DONE!

Madam & Eve, The Star, 13 July 2010

Paul the psychic octopus – Batting at 8 for 8 and getting every single prediction right was no fluke, Paul became the unwitting star of the WC2010. Winners love him, losing teams hate him, men want to be him, woman want to eat him! The Germans are backing his soon to be released auto-biography, and the current most popular dish in Holland is calamari & cheese with a free Heini!  He is going into retirement now, however, I reckon the bookies kidnapped him!

The Stadiums – Admit it, when you walked into Soccer City for the first time your first word was “JISLAAK”. How many (larger) countries in this world can boast the quality and beauty of the stadia South Africa built for WC2010? They were a tourist must see within themselves! From the Calabash design of Soccer City, to the arch-wrapped Mose Mabhida in Durban to the breathtaking backdrop of Cape Town Stadium, we are truly blessed with world-class facilities. Like the rest of us I am also concerned about the post-world cup white elephant phenomena, but the most positive aspect of the stadiums is the symbol of pride its gives the people of each region. A price cannot be put on that! Rugby should fill the void of the bigger centres  – Springboks/All Blacks Soccer City 21 August see you there! – and hopefully the other stadiums will be put to good use. If anything, I am sure we will be put on standby if the Aussies cannot pull it off come 2022 😉

Super Mario! My colleague was at the Durban semi’s and this is how he described it “there was this guy sitting on a wheelchair just in front of us. Next thing he rose up from his chair! It was a miracle!! He hopped the barriers and sprinted onto the field!! Unbelievable!” As far as light-hearted moments go, Italian Mario Ferri’s single handed crusade protesting that his favourite player was not picked was probably the best of ‘em, and it only cost him a R3,000 fine! (imagine 20,000 Bok fans running on the field in protest of PDivvy leaving out Francois Steyn!). The Bliksem of the tournament goes to the security fella who stiff-armed the introoda – in South Africa we don’t have streeka’s – who tried to touch the trophy before Sunday’s kickoff. Bakkies Botha would have been proud of this ‘sleight of hand’.

Hit first, ask questions later!

Vuvuzelas – Mrs Balls Chutney, Kreepy Krawly and now the Vuvuzela becoming an iconic SA export! Love it or hate it, the Vuvu became the symbol of the world cup. Debate raged on, and watching ESPN earlier it still goes on, whether it should have been banned or not. Personally, as I have gone to local soccer games and thus have witnessed the vibrant songs of the local fans , I think the stadiums would have been awkwardly silent as the majority of these locals sadly couldn’t afford or didn’t have access to match tickets. The Vuvu ensured a noisy, festive atmosphere at all games, and anyone who has blown one knows how much fun it is! Per the linguistic organisation Today Translations: “Thanks to the World Cup, the vuvuzela has the entered the shared language of the world and joined the ranks of words that need no translation.” Now thats Ayoba!!

Zapiro

The street vendors – to me the roads of Joburg seemed less colourful today as the swarms of street vendors have probably divvied up their hard-earned winnings and have taken off to Mauritius for a well deserved rest. The speed that these guys sourced the regalia of the flavour-of-the-day team was astounding. One day it was English scarves, then Brazilian and then finally just Spanish and Dutch (I never did see North Korea though, did anyone??) Each item was a commodity with a suggested ‘retail price’ – 100 bucks for a scarf, R60 for a beanie – and you work your way down from there… Finally these guys had something to sell that everyone wanted! Forget the cellphone adapters and plastic hangers.  Another legacy which needs to remain is all the cars adorned with rainbow adorned side mirrors and mini flags. It was pretty awesome seeing all this GEES whilst trawling through the painful Jozi traffic!

And finally…

South Africa and its people! I read in The Star paper earlier: “This wasn’t about Spain 1 Holland 0 it was simply SA won”! Hands down the biggest winners of this world cup were all of us South Africans whose infectious enthusiasm outshone the soccer spectacle. I have never been to any other World Cups, but who am I to argue when nearly every single one of the foreign experts and journalists claim this to have been the most festive, fun and friendliest World Cup ever!! The renowned Mzansi warmth and hospitality reverberated through every single foreign visitor to our shores, who are surely going to take the message of goodwill home with them. Organisers were worried that the early departure of Bafana would dent the interest of the country, but the opposite happened, partly due to our national pride and partly because we are a sports mad country we simply just picked another favourite team to support! And the rallying behind Ghana, which I witnessed at the game at Soccer City, was stuff of legend. I am truly proud, as I have always been, but DEFINITELY more so today, to call myself ‘Proudly South African’!

Mzansi Fo Sho!

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10 Responses to “World Cup Winners and Losers… Part 1”

  1. Steven Blend Says:

    Great piece Ryan…u got it all 100% spot-on.
    I think you should give up your day time job and become a Journo!

  2. Gavin Lapedus Says:

    Brilliant!!

  3. squeak your mind Says:

    Satch nice work. Truly special month for our amazing country. Long may the goodwill last and let’s derive maximum benefit/growth while it does

  4. Stephan Says:

    Awesome

  5. Michal Says:

    Truly Brilliant !

    loving this….keep it coming and come visit NY already, your visit is way overdue !!

  6. soccer predictions Says:

    nice post ! congratulations to spain

  7. Winner and Losers of WC2010 Part 2 « Sacksinthecity Says:

    […] a couple of weeks after the fact, after my initial Winners blog, it is a good time to ponder who were the losers of the World Cup? Hmmm, when I think about it, […]

  8. Lurkerberg Says:

    Well done Sacks! Looked at your album on facebook and couldn’t stop laughing at the Mlungu’s… If you keen for Rugby WC next year the second phase tix sales were posted on Monday. Putting a little touring party together…

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