Bringing joy to SA

2010-06-11 14:15
I am writing this on a flight from Detroit to New York, the first of three flights to get me home by Saturday morning after a two week business trip. I can’t explain just how sad I am that I am not home right now to be part of the build up to the FIFA World Cup. At least I am on my way home and not living abroad!

Thank heavens for social media though: from the hundreds of comments I have read on Twitter and Facebook, to the the photos I have seen in emails and on the internet, I can tell that South Africans are finally realising the joy and benefits such an enormously important event brings to our country. I can only hope the party atmosphere continues for the full four weeks – in fact I’m sure it will because South Africans are known to make the most of every situation!

It looks like the gees at work is building too: I heard we are adding a fan wall to our company blog and we have different flags hanging from almost every ceiling board at our Stellenbosch office! Even our US office (with staff from America, South Africa, Cuba, Equador, Brazil and Colombia) went out to get some flags and they have promised they’ll be up by Friday.

Unfortunately soccer is still a relatively small sport in the US, so there is not much happening there. I did however find a Budweiser advert for the event on a wall in an Irish pub and when I was in Miami over the weekend I walked into a shop in my Bafana t-shirt and the shop assistant said “wow, you’re in my team shirt”. I said “really? where are you from” and she replied “Brazil!”. Go figure! I explained to her that Brazil was actually yellow and blue not yellow and green and called Bafana Bafana so that confused her a bit.

I never knew how big the Soccer World Cup was until I lived in Brussels for a few years and was there when the 1998 world cup was hosted in France. Coupe de Monde – I remember looking up the meaning – “cup of the world ” and that’s exactly what it is to so many people, especially overseas. It’s the pinnacle of the most popular sport in the world, watched by billions, not millions! I really hope that those people who have been so negative about us hosting the world cup will put their opinions behind them now as they see the new infrastructure that we are already enjoying and the commercial benefits that will flow now and in years to come. And as if that’s not enough, just take a look at South Africans of all races blowing their vuvezelas, decorating their cars, houses and offices and the bright light in people’s eyes when they talk about where and who they are going to support.

On Friday our staff will be enjoying boerewors rolls and nachos at work before watching the opening game together, but unfortunately I’ll still be at Heathrow.  If anyone reading this is homeward bound, I’ll be the one in the BA lounge or a pub, wearing my yellow Bafana shirt, shouting the loudest and probably shedding more than a few tears when things get under way.

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