World Cup Fever




IT IS HERE!

I was to be at work at 8am on Friday for a team meeting with the Purple Heart guys (I am mentoring one of them starting now), so I had to go to the early session at the gym. Today it was rowing 3×500 meters, which wasn’t the most fun in the world with my injury … took me at least 5-6 strokes to get up to speed. At least I managed to get faster each time, so that’s a positive. Can’t wait until I’m fully recovered.

When I got to work, none of the Purple Heart people were there (actually one of the girls was there, but none of the boys). So I was quite annoyed that I had gotten up early and missed part of my workout (early session is only a half session), but it turned out that someone had cut the train lines in Khayelitsha, so they literally couldn’t get here in a timely manner. Why would someone do that? I have no idea.

So we rescheduled our meetings with our mentees for Monday morning and three of us spent some more time going over the coaching template where we enter in sales, and inventory and such. We had a nice discussion about actual vs theoretical inventory, and getting that onto the sheet. Good stuff – it’s all the same, just on a much smaller scale than I’m used to.

After that I met with my co-worker for an hour or so to review my comments on the first half of the parent support manual for the parents of recovering drug addicts. There is a lot of work for both of us to do here; I really need to do better at making time for it. It’s hard, especially with World Cup as except for the weekends when I am pretty selfish and just have a good time my time is very busy and I’m either working or working out, cooking, commuting etc. – what I’m saying is I don’t have a ton of free time until pretty late in the evening and from now on it’s going to be soccer, soccer, and more soccer! But, I’ll figure out a way. I always do.

I don’t think much work went on at work – I got a good picture of everyone listening to the K’naan Like a Waving Flag song on YouTube, except this one guy who is on the phone trying to make sales. I sure as heck couldn’t concentrate. We were told we could leave at noon but I did leave a bit early.

I took my co-worker home to Obs so she could change, then into the city. We walked around for a while gaping at the crowds until she met up with her friends and I went back to my place to get a flag drawn on my face and drink a beer. We shortly all headed out to meet our other friends, who were at a place called Tommy’s Sports Bar on Loop Street. The fan park had been closed since about noon – SO MANY people! Walking through the streets was amazing for so many reasons. First of all, everyone was super excited, about half were wearing Bafana Bafana yellow, or dressed up in some other way. People were tooting their vuvuzelas everywhere which can be quite annoying but at this time it was just fabulous. There were more non-whites around than I think I’ve ever seen, and actually I’ve never seen so many people in the streets of Cape Town, and probably never will again unless somehow Bafana make the finals or somehow a game here in Cape Town. I had just never seen the like, at least not *before* a big game.

Tommy’s was packed, and very hot – the whole experience was pretty cool, except that I was forced to keep drinking beer constantly so I didn’t dehydrate (how’s that work, right? Well, it was hot!). The mood was very, very excited. Everyone was just on the edge of their metaphorical seats all game. I can also honestly say I have never been this interested in a soccer game in my entire life.

When Tshabalala scored the Bafana goal the whole place erupted. Check that, the whole damn COUNTRY erupted. My one friend described it as pandemonium – we were jumping up and down and hugging complete strangers for what felt like minutes. Same, when Mexico scored the tying goal it was like half the air went out of a tire. I was really, really afraid Mexico would win because I knew that the feeling in the air that had been there since before the Thursday concert would just be ruined, so the result was actually OK. A win would have been better, but we were partying in the streets for a non-loss. Well, you take what you can get.

So after the match I went back to get my ticket and for some crazy reason (probably all the beer!) I forgot my earplugs that I had gotten from my co-worker. The vuvuzelas can cause permanent hearing damage, you see, and I wasn’t having any of that. In a panic, near Green Point, I went into a chemist just before it closed and found some earplugs. I actually got some fabulous ones – they are silicone or something and reusable, and can be shaped into whatever shape you need.

Long story short, getting into the match was absurd. Took nearly 45 minutes, I think and halfway through the power went out so we were all standing in the dark; I’m surprised there wasn’t a stampede! The lines for Budweiser were about 50 people long, so I quit drinking at this point, which was unfortunate because the game was a snooze (or as my co-worker said on Monday morning: “Yeah, it was kak!”). Ha! But the vibe was great, until the teams (France and Uruguay) decided to put us all to sleep with their boring play. I was also very grateful to have the earplugs in! I think being at the match is ok because you can hear the crowd oohing and ahhing, and only then do the vuvus start, but when you watch on TV as I later saw you can’t hear a darn thing over the constant hum of the vuvuzelas.

Some of my friends were going out after; I made a half-hearted attempt to join them but basically just went to bed around midnight. Amazingly, I was able to sleep.

Oh, speaking of which, I have already nearly forgotten the sad Flyers loss in the Stanley Cup final. I was very upset, mainly that I’d woken up in the middle of the night and lost my sleep and that they had tied it up with 4 minutes to go, only to lose in overtime. But it was funny – I got to the gym in the morning spitting nails, and by about 20 minutes in I was in a legitimately good mood, between thinking of the World Cup and just the general endorphin rush. I will say thinking about those Blackhawks helped me push through a set of pushups faster than normal. But yes, it’s true, at the moment I care more about Bafana Bafana than about the USA team or the Flyers. Perhaps not surprising from someone who roots for Canada in hockey over the U.S….

A couple moments/things I’m sure I’ll never forget:
• Driving into town on De Waal drive with the windows down singing along to Cooler as Ekke
• Masses of people on Adderley and the fan walk
• Dancing and singing Waka Waka in the bathroom with two random black women
• The feeling at the moment Bafana Bafana scored
• Walking down Long Street which was jampacked with people, partying in the streets. Like when the Pats first won the Super Bowl
• Finally turning around and seeing the pitch for the first time – my first professional soccer game!
• Everyone, and I mean everyone, grinning at each other all day.

So I don’t think the World Cup will benefit SA economically in either the short- or long-run. What I hope, what I really hope, is that some of the camaraderie and spirit that is in the air right now continues past the tournament. This country has a long way to go, and it’s going to be a rough road and it’s going to take a very, very long time. A lot more mixing, and a little more love and understanding, and just giving each other a chance will help. It’s going to be a team effort, and the easier the team plays together the easier it’s going to be. One [white] friend of mine from here was saying that he has this wishful feeling or hope that the World Cup will shatter the racial tensions. I don’t think that’s achievable but if it just makes people think twice even after the final game ends (Spain is going to win, by the way), then it will all have been worth it. Even the vuvuzelas.

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