Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ten Students, Four Stadiums, Many Allegiances

Although not the focal point of our program by any means, the 2010 FIFA World Cup has garnered our occasional attention. Oh who am I kidding, we have yet to miss a match! The constant activity has been a detriment to our health and sleep, but it has been truly unforgettable. For the first game June 11th we all descended on Long Street and watched Bafana Bafana score the World Cup’s first goal, and the bedlam that ensued will not be forgotten by any of us. Although South Africa has since bowed out of the tournament, they played well and should be proud hosts.

As for our little group, we all unanimously and vocally support the USA, which gave us all a heart attack followed by the most exhilarating thrilling goal in their history yesterday in winning their group and advancing to the knockout stage of the World Cup. But many of us have diverse backgrounds and support other teams. For my own part, I support Spain and Chile, two countries I studied abroad in as well as having familial ties with Spain. Amparo is Mexican, Christiane is from Cote d’Ivoire, Daniel’s family comes from Argentina, and Maria’s family is from Chile. Karinna, as we’ve been told once or twice, is from Peru, but they have the misfortune of playing in South America and did not qualify. Aubrey assures us she would have supported Ireland to the death had it not been for France’s cheating hand goal in the last qualifying game.

But allegiances or no, we all just want to be a part of the action. We supported Bafana Bafana with all our new South African friends, Dan and Aubrey have attended numerous games in Cape Town through Grassroots Soccer, and most of us went to the Italy v. Paraguay game in Cape Town. Some of us trekked to Johannesburg to see the US play Slovenia, where Daniel got very confused with HIS allegiances and the referee got confused with the rule book. Others went out to Port Elizabeth to see Chile v. Switzerland. And Christiane lucked into a free ticket to see the Ivory Coast play Brazil at Soccer City, site of the World Cup final. The ultimate impact and legacy of this World Cup in South Africa remains to be seen, but in the short term it has been a tremendous success and a pleasure to be a part of.

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