The World Cup is Over

Yep, it’s been over for a whole week. Time has been just flying by and at this point there is no way I can do a play-by-play of what exactly I’ve been up to, so highlight reel only starting with World Cup.

A while ago I posted on facebook my top reasons why I was looking forward to the World Cup being over (to help me get over my depression). They are:
10.I can finally start apartment hunting
9. That #@*(#$ fan walk will be a thing of the past
8. I can stop planning my social life around soccer
7. Prices will go down
6. I will be more productive at work
5. I can quit pretending I know what I’m talking about (at least in relation to soccer)
4. I can go back to Long Street without male escorts (not THAT sort of male escort)
3. Fewer vuvuzelas at all hours of the day and night
2. People will quit asking me if I’m here for World Cup
1. I’ll get more sleep
Plus one I forgot – the lane closures on match days will be done.

The first semi-final game was Netherlands-Uruguay, right here in Green Point. Two teams I had seen before, and I was happy to see that the crowd was pretty well all orange for Netherlands (oranje). When I got to the stadium (early, in time to watch warmups), I saw a TV over the concessions that was showing the game broadcasting on SABC3, which was showing the stadium. I had a bit of a crazy moment realizing that a lot of the world was watching this (or a similar) broadcast and I was there. Lucky me, and it’s not just the World Cup to me, either – it’s the World Cup in South Africa. Big difference.

After Suárez’s handball against Ghana, and just the fact that Uruguay had beaten Ghana, we were all pulling for Netherlands, who had actually been a very entertaining team to watch the entire time. I also just realized that Suárez was the same one whose play-acting had been responsible for that absurd red card that the South African goalie got, which resulted in Uruguay’s second goal (and the goal that effectively closed out the Bafana Bafana loss. Ugg. Regardless, due to his red card he didn’t play which was a shame because we didn’t get to boo his every move.

I found the match itself very entertaining. Both teams played well but Netherlands clearly dominated, and it showed in the score as they went ahead 2-0 I believe. It was a bit close to comfort at the end as Uruguay got a late goal bringing it to 3-2 Netherlands, and there was quite a flurry at the end. It was ironic because Forlán was subbed out with maybe 10 minutes left; I bet they wished he was in at the end!

Whoa, a burpee wall jump. That is crazy. I am watching the CrossFit games online right now. Wow these athletes are exhausted.

Wednesday night was the Spain-Germany game. I fully expected Germany to win this game handily, but I was pleased with the end result as I was rooting for Spain as I had picked them to win. One of my friends from Stellenbosch came into Cape Town to watch with me (from the balcony at Zula, of course), and he even had a Spain jersey on so we were all good. Even though they are the New Jersey Devils of the World Cup. But, I have always appreciated good defense even though I hate the Devils almost as much as I hate the Red Wings.

This was the most amazing game I have ever seen (ok, granted, I haven’t seen that many games) – according to the official stats after Spain had possession of the ball 51% of the time. It sure as heck didn’t look like that to me – it looked to me like the ball was glued to the feet of the Spaniards. They were executing the most amazing passes all around the Germans. Absolutely incredible. Well, Spain won 1-0 which was about par for the course. So we celebrated with the Uruguay fans who overhead the two of us practicing our Spanish (now that Uruguay lost I was rooting for them as they were the underdogs … my friend called me a traitor but I actually did feel quite bad for them somehow). Then we continued drinking and talking laaaate into the night; it was pretty intense as this particular friend and I are just now realizing that we have extremely similar personalities, so it’s kind of fascinating to explore that.

For the consolation game on Saturday night I went to watch at a really fun sports bar in Observatory with my co-worker. It was a nice vibe there, and the whole crowd was anti-Uruguay but the Germans won the game. My impression was that Uruguay wanted the win more than Germany, but the Germans were just far the superior team. I also wound up watching more Uruguay games than any other team – I saw the France-Uruguay in Green Point, then South Africa-Uruguay on TV, Uruguay-Ghana, Netherlands-Uruguay, and Germany-Uruguay. That’s a lot of Forlán’s hair. I was just exhausted so after this game I went home and to bed early, as apparently did most of the rest of Cape Town, in anticipation of the next night’s game.

For the final on Sunday, I did not start drinking at 10am like a lot of the people in my building (they were having a sangria party that I dropped by to say hello). I figured if I started drinking at 10am I would probably get drunk and not be able to enjoy the game, and I certainly didn’t want that. So instead I decided to celebrate by going and running from Green Point to Camps Bay and back. The Winter Trail series started in two weeks and I hadn’t been running once since I got to Cape Town, or about 10 weeks, so I figured it might be a good idea to make sure I could run 15kms or so before attempting to do so. It went pretty well – I was originally aiming for a leisurely run but instead I somehow decided part-way in a) not to run for time but to run for distance, and b) that I wanted my second half split to be faster than my first. I was doing really well and just flying through Bantry Bay and Clifton then I hit the wall right around Sea Point and literally had to force myself not to stop the last 200 meters or so. That was really interesting, the mental gymnastics that were going on in my head at that time.

Anyway, back to the World Cup. So another friend of mine from Stellenbosch came into town to watch this game. Every bar was pretty packed from early in the afternoon, and we wound up at Cubana in Green Point. This was actually pretty cool because we hung out by the bar, and I wound up sitting on the bar to watch the game which was fantastic because it was comfortable and I had a very good view. And also, it’s just cool to be able to sit on a bar. For some strange reason.

So this game was not the most entertaining I’d ever seen in terms of drama, and there was a lot of rough playing and diving on both sides. Yech. But it was a typical Spain game, and they won 1-0. To the Netherlands’ credit, Spain was unable to maintain the level of otherworldly ball control that they had had against Germany. Other than that, it was a typical Spain game with only a single [Spanish] goal. I was rooting for Spain in this game because I had chosen them, but actually I didn’t really care as I liked both teams quite well. I suppose I should have been rooting for the team that resembled the Flyers over the team that resembled the Devils, but whatever…

And just like that, the World Cup was over. I felt empty for a little bit, but life goes on. It was really something. On Wednesday after World Cup our free expression session in the morning meeting was soapbox rants or raves about World Cup and it was crazy what people had to say. One of the women in our office put together a slide show of various images of the World Cup and I had goose bumps the entire time.

From now, the entire country will need a new conversation starter! The excitement and euphoria of the opening day has been gone for a while now, actually. Has there been any lasting impact? Too soon to tell. I feel, from many conversations, like things are changing for the better but in reality I don’t think that the World Cup can or should take credit for that so much as just time. Then again, the top of the news headlines the next day was xenophobic violence in the townships against Somalis. So, we have a ways to go.


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