South Africa has well and truly experienced something the likes of which we'll probably never see again in my lifetime, through the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
My dad is a huge football fanatic, so I've grown up in a house where there was almost always the sound of a match humming through the tv, and my dad in his couch, nibbling on a bowl of peanuts, periodically yelling some sort of insult / instruction at the screen. So when we heard that SA had won the bid to host it, we were super excited! And as we watched the Durban stadium being built, and the growing number of SA flags flapping around everywhere that excitement grew. But, for whatever reason, we just didn't seem to get around to purchasing tickets in the early online stages. Eventually my dad felt that he might be happier just watching it all on tv (too lazy to get off the couch, I guess) until the day when ticket sales opened to the public and my brother Donovan decided that this was too good an opportunity for my dad to miss. So he offered to buy tickets for dad, mom and myself. My mom waited in the queue for almost an entire day, but by the end of it, she'd walked out of the bank with three tickets to a Round of 16 match at Durban's Moses Mobida Stadium. Success!
As the weeks rolled on, we watched all the matches on tv and prepared for our own, not even knowing who'd be playing... And just as luck would have it, mom and I came down with the rottenest flu EVER just a few days before the actual match. I was clever enough to see a doctor and get my antibiotics a few days before match day, so even though I was still on them, I was already feeling strong. NOTHING was going to keep me away from this one! Mom, on the other hand, adopted her usual Martyr Approach to dealing with the flu, which basically consists of her self-medicating on useless over-the-counter stuff, and slogging on at the desk until she can't go on, has lost her voice completely and is a walking snot / phlegm factory. Our match was on a Monday, buy by the Sunday night, she couldn't breathe and we had to rush her to the Ethekwini Hospital to see a doctor immediately. One hot Nigerian doctor, a couple of tests and some good drugs later, she was tucked in and hopefully on her way to being strong enough to attend the match at 4pm the next day.
Long story, short... Or long story, long, the three of us piled in to the car, all bundled up in our Winter gear and headed off to the stadium at around 1:30pm. By 2:15pm we'd found a parking and by 2:30pm we were walking through the gates of the stadium for the first time ever. Well, it wasn't dad's first visit there, as his jazz band had the honour of being one of the first artists to do a gig in one of the 5-star suites at the stadium a few weeks before.
The start of the experience was mind-blowing and exhausting and, well... altogether far too much for us to take in, so by the time we got to our seats we were completely deflated. We'd had no idea that our seats were at THE TOP MOST ROW of seats in the entire stadium. There were far too many stairs to 2 people on antibiotics and the vertigo at the top is so extreme, that for the longest time mom and I just sat there, holding hands, breathing deeply and trying not to puke.
My trip to the food stall wasn't any better... Not only did I pay R140.00 for 3 hot dogs, 3 cokes and a packet of chips (HEY??!!), but they insisted that it's stadium policy to take the caps off the coke and hand them to you already opened. So? We're supposed to drink flat coke by half time? And have all sorts of crap flying into the unopened bottle? I don't understand. ANYWAY! I then had to carry the cardboard box filled with our food and drinks all the way up the flippin' stairs again. By the time I got to my seat I was so dizzy, I thought it might be game over for Carma-Sutra.
We were early so, of course, people had only just started filtering in... First a few puffed out, happy faces peppered around the stadium, then a few more, and before we knew it, it was time to pop the earplugs in because of the deafening Vuvuzelas going mad around us.
A while ago, my friend Noodle mentioned that she felt an "ugly cry" coming on from all the pride she'd been feeling in the build up to the event and now it was finally here! Let me tell you, I cried my eyes out! One of the ugliest, sobbing, snotty, open-mouthed cries I've done in a LONG time. I didn't ever think I'd be that proud or that emotional, standing there in that crowd of 62000 people, most wearing orange like myself, with painted faces, sore hands from clapping as loud are we could, and swollen puffy lips from blowing on those Vuvuzelas with everything we had!
Netherlands kicked Slovakia's arse, 2-1, as I had predicted at the start of the match. Result!
It will be one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life.
Here are some pics of the stadium filling up:
The stadium bursting at the seams with ±62000 people:
Mom, dad and Me, the super happy football fans:
It's almost over. Can you believe it?
The semi-finals will be played today and tomorrow, and the finals will be on Sunday.
I feel like it's flown by so super fast, but on the other hand I think I've watched enough football to last me a lifetime.
Viva South Africa. VIVA!