I’ve long been fascinated by American Football. I like the ferocity, I like the 120 (on average) explosions per game when the 22 guys on the field attempt to rip each other’s faces off. Its intensity is not too different from our rugby and I have recently watched a couple of football themed, based on true events, kind of movies. This got me thinking about cultures, lifestyles, struggles and conquering insurmountable odds.
I went to school in rugby country. I did not play rugby. This was frowned upon and I had earrings and was from the “city”. Needless to say, I was a bit of an outsider and I liked it. High school was awesome; the way people carried on about rugby however, was not. It was all that mattered. The only achievements recognised were those achieved by the first rugby team.
This reminds me of Friday Night Lights, a film (and television show more addictive than Nik-Naks) that depicts the struggles of a small Texas town and its football team. It’s not all that different to Somerset East, the little town where I spent those five glorious years. There was abundant racism, obvious favouritism and a sense of unrivalled pride. I hated rugby, and if the Boks aren’t playing I still don’t care much for it, but when our team ran out onto the field the stands would erupt and for those 60 minutes we were all one team. We felt every tackle, we cheered every point and we did all this on a Saturday. Madness I tell you.
This got me thinking about the World Cup and the struggles we’ve been through together in this country to have gotten to this point. Folks, in case it hasn’t sunk in, we’re hosting a World Cup. Never have we seen this kind of exposure, never has the magnifying glass been closer. It’s so close that I can smell my hair singeing.
We’ve overcome immense tragedy and injustice to be where we are and I truly believe that when it’s all said and done we’ll be a better nation for it. We pioneered some pretty insane concepts and did some awful things to good people, but now, when the world is watching we need to step up. We need to show that we’re not just some little country at the southern tip of Africa.
This is the calm before the storm, we’re on the stands and the first team is in the change room chanting away. We’re all waiting, we’re all anxious and the anticipation is deafening. When the tournament kicks off the stands will erupt, the lights will be brighter than ever and for those 30 days the World Cup will be the only thing that matters. Just like a Friday night in American High School football or a Saturday afternoon in the “Platteland”.
Time will stand still and when we collectively exhale when the insanity comes to an end, the world will be blown away.