World Cup Fever

Memba Ben By Memba Ben, 13th Mar 2018 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/199vtt59/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Personal Experiences

With the FIFA World Cup less than three months away, I look back and reminisce on the experience of attending a World Cup match. To the fans going to Russia, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

22 June 2010. The day I attended a World Cup game.

I was in High School when it was announced that the FIFA World Cup would be coming to South Africa and like the rest of the country, we were losing our minds. The groups were drawn, the stadiums that were hosting the fixtures were announced and by God’s grace, my hometown stadium would get the opportunity to host a match.

Argentina vs Greece.

Now personally, I wasn’t happy that we didn’t get a bigger fixture but I was more than happy to overlook that simply because we got to see a big team and more specifically, one of the world’s greatest players.

Lionel Messi.

Back then, Leo Messi hadn’t yet become the legend that he is but he was undoubtedly one of the world’s best. He had just come off possibly a fantastic season (as per usual) and the world was waiting to see if he could continue his form into the biggest international competition in the world.

This was my opportunity to see one of the greatest players alive. There was no way I was gonna miss it so I asked my folks to help me cop a ticket.

“You are supposed to be focusing on your year-end examinations. Not the World Cup”
“I don’t think you guys understand, its Messi.”
“Don’t care. Will Messi help you pass?”


I was crushed.

Just how could these people who claimed to have my best interests at heart not see that it’s in my best interest to go see Messi live?
When would I ever get the opportunity to see Messi again, let alone the World Cup?

Despite my parents rejection, I was determined to be a part of Africa’s first World Cup. By fire or force, I was gonna make it to that Argentina/Greece match and through haggling them to death, I worked out a deal in that if I passed to the next grade with good marks, they’d think about it and so; with all the determination a seventeen year old, football obsessed teenager could muster, I set out to defeat the demons known as Science and Mathematics.

Although the marks weren’t great, I managed to make it through to my final year in high school and earn myself a ticket to a World Cup match.

The months leading up to the World Cup were a blur. From school work to social problems, I just didn’t give a shit. I was following all football news like a madman and setting reminders regarding to how many days were left till kickoff.

The June examinations came and I knew I didn’t perform well due to a lack of concentration on school work but I was saved by the fact that the results came out later in the month. If the results had come out earlier and my folks had received them, they’d have surely torn that ticket to shreds but it seemed God had my back and on June the twenty-second, on a warm Thursday evening, I met up with two school friends who managed to cop tickets and headed to the game.

We thought of attending the pre match presentations but figured instead to head to the Fan Zones (FIFA and Coca-Cola wanted to bring the experience of the World Cup to everyone by hosting live match screenings outside the World Cup venues for those who were unable to attend the games) and found many schoolmates hanging around and taking in the atmosphere. Fun was being had and drinks were flowing freely but the time soon came for my two friends and I to make our way into Peter Mokaba Stadium.

Up until that point, the feeling hadn’t set in that I was actually going to watch a FIFA World Cup match. I simply couldn’t believe these footballing superstars were coming to play a match in my hometown at this stadium where I’ve watched our national team play some (boring) friendlies a couple of months earlier but when I saw the Greece and Argentinian national teams make their way onto the field for the anthems, that’s when it set in.

I’m at the Fucking World Cup!

While the Argentinian team itself didn’t have the superstars it has now, it was still a dream come true to see the likes of Aguero, Millito and Di Maria.

Then, that number 10 jersey walked out to the pitch…

My friends and I were sitting towards the upper terraces of the stadium behind the goals which was a further view from the action than the action but with our eagle eyes, were able to see that diminutive master walking on the pitch.

One of my friends let out a fitting:
“Oh Shit, its Messi!”
And in only a way football loving South Africans can, the entire stadium lost their collective minds.

It was a magical atmosphere. Every time Argentina (and specifically Messi) gained possession of the ball, the attending fans (including our group) cheered, screamed and blew our vuvuzelas to our limits. To be fair to the Greeks, they also received a warm reception and whenever they tried to launch an attack, they were willed on by the supporters.

But on that day, Peter Mokaba Stadium was the home of La Albiceleste.

As for the game itself, despite many predicting Argentina to run riot, Greece were holding their own (this in part due to the legendary Diego Maradona’s inefficiency at tactics) and gave them a scare or two but Argentina was in control of the game and eventually ran out as two-nil winners.

It was a carnival from the buildup till after the match was over and despite Greece losing, everybody seemingly had a great time out. I was planning to head straight home after the game but my friends convinced me to go attend the Fan Park celebrations going on and being drunk of feeding off the excitement of the World Cup, I tagged along.

The match started at half past eight and ended at around ten.
I arrived home at a quarter past twelve.

Naturally, my parents weren’t jumping with joy when I got home and sure enough, I received a firm dressing down (to say the least) about respecting them and all that parent talk but while I acted all remorseful, I didn’t really care.

I’d just been to a World Cup match.
I’d just seen Messi live.

As far as I cared, the world could’ve ended the next day and I’d have died a happy man.

Tags

Fifa World Cup, Fifa World Cup 2010, Football, Football Soccer, Personal Experience, Personal Experiences, Soccer

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author avatar Memba Ben
A fan's view on the business of football.

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