I’m an utter sports nut. Well, a football, rugby and cricket man. Liverpool FC, Lamontville Golden Arrows, The Sharks, The KZN Dolphins and, on the international front, Bafana Bafana, the Springboks and the Proteas. Non-negotiable. Arguing with me about my choice of teams is like arguing with the ref after he’s made his decision. And like Grand Prix racing, the Tour de France and that WWF malarkey – totally pointless.
So, we’re talking sport this morning. Especially some not altogether widely-known trivia to do with South African sport. Fascinating stuff…
“When Vincent Tshabalala won the French Open in 1976, he became the first black golfer to win a major tournament on the European Circuit.”
“Bob Hewitt and Frew McMillan won 57 career doubles titles, including three Wimbledon crowns. After teaming up, they played 45 matches before being beaten.”
How cool is Frew's cap? Pic: Getty Images
“Grant Khomo captained the National Soccer XI, won the SA singles and doubles tennis titles, represented Transvaal at cricket and rugby and captained the SA Bantu Rugby Board first team.”
“Ernie Els was the first non-US golfer in 90 years to win the US Open twice, a feat repeated two years later by another South African, Retief Goosen.”
“More than 50% of the world’s paragliding records have been set in South Africa.”
“Football (soccer) is South Africa’s most popular sport and is followed by 78% of South African adults, according to an SABC Markinor survey in 2004. Rugby is next most popular at 47%, followed by cricket (39%).” Er, followed by wrestling (25%). Eish.
* If you scroll up to your right on this page, you’ll see a big fat badge saying something about the 2010 South African Blog Awards. I’ve entered your “diagnosed SA-positive” blog into three categories: Best New Blog, Best Personal Blog and The Kulula Best Travel Blog. I wouldn’t be at all offended if you clicked on that there badge and nominated http://www.fredhatman.co.za in any of these categories (be sure to type in your e-mail address on the blog awards site for your nomination to be registered). In fact, were I to amaze all of us by winning something, the Birkenhead is on me down the Stanford Arms! Cheers!
To me, it matters not a jot whether the man who is given global football’s golden statuette on Sunday is wearing orange or red.
The real winner of this remarkable World Cup tournament is South Africa. And every South African.
I am no politician. No economist. I’m not much of a social analyst. But my “SA-positive” instinct tells me that, whether you found a job or not, whether your B&B filled up or sat empty or whether or not your company increased its profit over the past month, this beautiful thing has vastly enhanced all of our lives.
From the phenomenal opening ceremony at Soccer City on June 11, this World Cup really cooked!
I wrote long before the first ball was kicked on June 11 that the really tangible benefits of the 2010 World Cup would only be felt by our country in years to come. Millions of foreigners with significant disposable income will have had the scales fall from their eyes as their television sets and other media constantly told the story of the safety and sophistication with which our fledgling democracy has hosted this tournament. And they will have, from their lounges in Milan, Montreal, Manchester, Montevideo and Madrid, felt the “Ayoba vibe” that has danced its way around South Africa in the past few weeks.
For them, South Africa will have become a viable long-haul destination for a holiday, a place of warmth, friendliness and indomitable human spirit. We have become a country with which to do business. South Africa is the business. We have grabbed the opportunity to show the world what we are truly made of. And, just 16 years since the awful legacy of apartheid began to drain away, South Africa has finally grown up. We demand to be taken seriously. We can do just about anything any so-called First World country can do and, what’s more, we will do it a uniquely spirited way which can only enrich the human condition.
All South Africans united as one beautiful nation under the Rainbow flag
In the year that I have been writing the “only medically diagnosed SA-positive blog”, I have locked horns with the naysayers who refused to believe that South Africa could pull this off. That we could host a safe World Cup. That we could stage a successful World Cup. Stuck within the limitations of their fear, their distrust of an ANC government reeking of corruption, the unacceptably high level of crime, they saw the new stadiums rise as symbols of new doom and disaster. They steadfastly refused to break free of the shackles of their post-apartheid victimhood and see the bigger picture.
A week before the World Cup began, I was savouring my afternoon coffee at the Art Cafe in my newly-adopted village of Stanford in the Western Cape when an elderly woman opposite me let out a groan. I looked up to see her look up from her morning newspaper, a pained expression contorting her face. “I wish this damn World Cup was over,” she whined, “so that we can get back to our lives.”
I decided to remain quiet as there seemed little point in trying to win over yet another doom-monger. “What do you think?” she asked. I told her. At length. In detail. She blinked. Her top lip quivered uncontrollably. And then she put up an argument, rooted in the comfort zone of her dedication to making herself as small and shrivelled-up as possible in the face of a country that “was going to the dogs”. After we had agreed to disagree, I suggested that she might herself be caught up in the tsunami of goodwill and high spiritedness that was about to envelop South Africa. No sooner had the ball pinged off the left foot of Bafana Bafana’s Siphiwe Tshabalala to open the scoring in the very first match against Mexico and she was.
No sooner had Siphiwe Tshabalala buried the ball in the Mexico net and the South African naysayers were rushing off to buy vuvuzelas and mirror socks
I have so many anecdotes of naysayers and don’t-give-a-damners seduced by the beautiful vibe that has permeated World Cup South Africa but space precludes me from telling them. Suffice to say that there is a new positivity which abounds in the psyche of South Africans. The long-cherished spirit of “ubuntu” (communal togetherness) has turned from a trickle to a torrent as inter-racial distrust has washed away under the wanton waving of our Rainbow flag.
From the pre-World Cup day that the Afrikaner volk which lives, breathes and eats the Pretoria-based Bulls rugby franchise charted unknown territory by going into Soweto to watch their heroes play a Super 14 semi-final at Orlando Pirates’ home ground and ended up enjoying a “moerse jol” (one hell of a party) with the locals to the ongoing feelgood fandango that is this World Cup, South Africa has reached out across hitherto impassable divides to claim its future.
An entire continent will benefit from South Africa's successful staging of the 2010 World Cup
There is no doubt that this future is littered with challenges. It would be one-eyed of me to dismiss the chaos of Wednesday night when fans were late for or missed the Spain v Germany semi-final in Durban because of the gross unpreparedness of Acsa (Airports Company of South Africa) for the number of planes flying into the spanking-new state-of-the-art King Shaka Airport. And it would be remiss to ignore disturbing reports of a possible resurfacing of the xenophobia which tore through South Africa’s shantytowns in 2008.
Yes, there will be many obstacles to overcome. But if there’s one country I would back to find a way of overcoming these challenges, it is South Africa. We have made it our national sport to bounce back from adversity. The overwhelming success of this World Cup only serves to remind us that South Africans are an extraordinary bunch. An extraordinary bunch blessed to live in an extraordinary country. The beloved country. I am so proud of my “SA-positive” status.
My dear Hatpeople, may I have the privilege of introducing you to writer Helen Walne. I am even more of a fan of Helen’s left-field writing style than I am of Simphiwe Tshabalala’s left-wing artistry. And that’s saying a lot. Here, in a guest post for fredhatman.co.za, Helen insists that, regardless of how beautiful our World Cup might become, she is to remain unmoved. Please stop blowing your vuvuzelas for a minute and enjoy this…
Two weeks into this World Cup and I am proud to announce that I haven’t fallen for it. Amid the vuvuzelas, the soccer pizzas, the side-mirror willy warmers and the flags, I have remained as unmoved as a parliamentarian with a mandatory gym contract, as a 4X4 enthusiast at an instant lawn demonstration or as Posh Spice at a laughing yoga convention. You get the picture.
Indeed, being unaffected by hype has always been one of my more admirable qualities. When everyone at school huddled on the steps watching their slinkies coil and uncoil their way down to the bottom field, I bit into my egg sandwich and admired my collection of eucalyptus leaves. When the other kids dashed into a flutter of flying ants, squealing and chewing, declaring that they tasted like peanut butter, I went inside and drew pictures of dwarves. And when Knight Rider came to the Southgate Shopping Centre to sign autographs next to the Biltong Den, I refused to go.
So when it comes to resisting a silly ball game, it’s a piece of cake. Besides, I haven’t been interested in soccer since Dean de Beer played goalie for the under-15 Maritzburg Lions. He wasn’t the sparkiest boy on the bus, but he had a nice mole on his cheek. Anyway, according to the wisdom of Colour Me Beautiful, I’m a summer and look bad in yellow – like a jaundiced custard slice, or Homer Simpson after too much vindaloo. And I refuse to be brainwashed by advertising.
Besides tampons, cable ties and haemorroid cream, I don’t think there’s a single item that hasn’t been given a World Cup spin. From crisps and koejawels to soap and sosaties, the advertising Beelzebubs have positively dived, sprung, vaulted and jumped on the bandwagon. Last week, even our work canteen was flogging a Wayne Rooney chicken-something, and I’m almost sure our local tearoom is selling Bafana nasal sprays.
And I wouldn’t be surprised if, over the course of the past year, we haven’t been subjected to subliminal World Cup advertising. Maybe that nice couple with the Bible who came round last week were actually secret soccer agents, burning messages into my brain with their eyes: Thou shalt wear yellow. Thou shalt paarp those plastic trumpets. Thou shalt bow down before the beautiful game. And perhaps the bitterness of the soup I ate last night was not due to a batch of dodgy lentils, but a clutch of evil Fifafia pellets designed to turn me into a polyester-wearing freak. And right now, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to believe that with every flap of their wings, the clutch of hadedas clattering overhead is disseminating subliminal pay-off lines: You will support Bafana. You will develop an interest in hamstring injuries. You will learn the names of all the players.
Pity they’re wasting their time over my house. I’m as immune as a turnip, as a Cape Town waitress is to the outside section of a restaurant or as a taxi driver is to solid lines. You get the picture.
"I have resisted the drama of the World Cup and continue to take the Drogbas for a walk in the park"
Nay, my dear readers, while the rest of the country are waving flags and swopping vuvu viruses, for me it is business as usual. Untouched by the hype, resilient to all forms of brainwashing, I will continue to go about my days with the composure of a Cumbrian tobacconist. I will take the Drogbas for walks in the neighbourhood, ignoring Joey’s penchant for peeing against every Lampard he can find. I might try my hand at baking again: rock buns, Bafana bread, scones and chocolate Rooneys.
On weekends, I will not be at the Beckham call of big-screen games and badly dressed commentators Blattering on about balls and bicycle kicks. Instead, I will go for Fabio walks in the forest, and later perhaps will throw some Coles on the braai and tuck into hunks of free-range Lahm.
At night, I will not be hanging with the Pepes at fan parks, throwing precious Silva at the bar for warm American beer in unmarked packaging. Instead, I will make myself a nice cup of warm Kaka, put on some soothing Capello, snuggle up in my Thierry cloth robe and dive into a good book. And on the days when our team takes to the field, I will take advantage of the empty shopping malls, cruising electronic shops for all manner of Dudas and claiming a Booth with ocean views for a spot of sushi and a glass of French Pienaar.
See, my little soccer suckers, how easy it is to escape being plunged into a Dunga of football delirium? Witness how simple it is to avoid going Gaxa over a silly game? Say thank you and Siyabonga for presenting an alternative way to surviving the next 30-odd days. It’s as simple as a tackle on a wounded midfielder, as a pass right in front of goals or as a header into the top left-hand corner. You get the picture.
Mmmmm, I don’t feel very well. I think I’m coming down with something. Something yellow and weirdly contagious. And since our Bafana boys bowed out so bravely against the French the other night, my condition is only deteriorating.
Viva, Bafana, Viva!
* This article, one of Helen Walne’s excellent series of Human League columns, was first published in the Cape Argus. Helen’s writing has been published all over the show and she is currently writing her first book.
Eureka! After poring over my old Casio calculator for one hour and failing miserably, the boys at Kickoff magazine have come to our rescue!
Due to my acute IDD (Intelligence Deficit Disorder) and my old maths teacher’s propensity for chalking up insane maths formulas on the blackboard with one hand and almost immediately wiping them off with his duster in the left hand, my competency at adding 14 plus 8 and subtracting six and getting he correct answer is about as good as Raymond Domenech’s ability to get the best out of his French team.
But you didn’t need that information. This is what you need to know… cue Kick-off’s clever-clogs calculus:
“Mexico’s 2-0 win over France in their 2010 World Cup Group B clash in Polokwane on Thursday night has left Bafana Bafana on the brink of elimination from the tournament.
Although still mathematically in the competition, Bafana now need to hammer France in their final pool match on Tuesday in Bloemfontein, and hope that one of Uruguay or Mexico does likewise to each other.
A draw between the Mexicans and the Uruguayans would put both South Africa and France out, and the chances of a ‘contrived’ result is high.
Don't put it past Dirty Diego and his South American amigos to contrive a draw and break South African hearts. Even after all the hospitality we've shown them! Pic: The Guardian
The only thing counting against that from a Mexican point of view is that a draw would mean they finish second in the pool and more than likely would then play Argentina in the second round.
Mexico might well think it is worth going for the win and try to top the group, which would mean they face one of South Korea, Greece or Nigeria in the Last 16.
One scenario for Bafana is that they beat France 3-0 and hope that Uruguay beat Mexico 2-0, which would leave both them and Mexico on a zero goal-difference, but Bafana would advance on goals scored.
The bottom line is that Bafana need to make up a five-goal swing on goal-difference over Mexico, and six goals on Uruguay, and that will only happen with two one-sided results in the final round of Group A matches.
France are in the same boat, needing to brush aside Bafana and hope that there is a win for either side in the other game.
Qualification is now very much in the hands of Uruguay and Mexico, and how they handle the situation on Tuesday will be interesting to watch.”
So, if I understand that correctly, should Mexico and Uruguay draw, we’ll be solidly in the dwang and demanding that Fifa conduct a thorough investigation into match-fixing, right?
So you’re slumped over your desk, waving a tear-stained segment of ultra-soft double-ply at the imaginary Uruguayan who has conducted a ghost-like coup of Thandi’s workstation opposite you? And his sneer is doing a damn good job of imitating that of Diego bloody Forlan standing over yet another free-kick?
Understandable. But wait, bru. All is not lost. Listen up. Hope springs eternal… and here it is: Tonight, Mexico holds France to a draw; then while Uruguay are thrashing Mexico, Bafana Bafana produce the performance of their lives to beat an unhappy French team beset by internal wrangling and characteristic petulance.
Result? We go through to the next round with – I struggle to even type out their name – Uruguay. See? How are you feeling now? That this is delusional? Fair cop.
But I remind you that this is football. Unscripted drama. The Spanish don’t need reminding of this. Ranked second in the world, they contrived to be beaten yesterday by Switzerland, ranked 24th by Fifa. Anything can happen in a high-intensity football match… and usually does.
Oscar-winning stuff: Uruguay cheat Suarez swan-lakes it to terra firma after trailing his left foot to catch Itumeleng Khune's outstretched leg and sneak the penalty which devastated the hopes of the South African nation. Infidel!
So, last night we were beaten by a national team that Fifa rank 67 places above South Africa. Where is the shame in that? I’ll tell you where the shame lay. Who were the so-called Bafana Bafana fans who packed up their shiny-new vuvuzelas and traipsed out of Loftus before the match had ended? Shame on them. Fairweather supporters! Scoundrels!
Do they have any idea how that feels to a Bafana Bafana team which has laid its collective body on the line for our nation? I hope that a thousand sharp-clawed tokoloshes visited their anatomical extremities as they lay treasonably under their duvets while the rest of us clutched our heads into the wee hours!
OK. So let’s hold a short post-mortem on what happened last night. It all looked quite pretty in the beginning, our boys pushing the ball around as choreographed by coach Carlos Alberto Perreira. Uruguay hung back, got men behind the ball, got themselves quickly to the man on the ball and gradually got the better of Bafana Bafana.
Our cohesiveness dissipated as Uruguay found their stride, denied us space in which to work the ball forward and generally harried our men into making ill-judged passes. There would be a neat one-two – or even a one-two-three – and the move would founder against our opponents’ rush defence.
We weren’t allowed to make use of our wings and got squeezed into the middle until we were dispossessed, allowing the combative Uruguayans to launch fast and fluid counter-attacks. Aaron Mokoena, who has been a tower of strength and stability, was reduced to the shakiness so apparent among his fellow defenders and it was only desperate tackling which denied early goals.
Then Forlan decides to do something never witnessed by the Manchester United fans he frustrated for so long. He scored what might be remembered as the goal of the tournament, helped by the ear of Mokoena pinballing his super-strike over and behind Itumeleng Khune and into the net. You cannot defend a goal like that. There is no legislating for such a marvellous thing. They just happen. And it happened to us.
What also happened to us is some dodgy refereeing. Mixed with a big drop of dodgy deception from Suarez who, I believe, trailed his foot over Khune’s lunge so that limbs were allowed to collide. Suarez swan-laked it to the ground and, of course, referee Massimo Busacca fell for it too. Like a Busacca potatoes. Penalty. Bang. Game over. End of story.
Until the next match. Yes, we need other results to go our way but, believe me, there will be many twists and turns to come. That is the beauty of football. and this is the beauty of our World Cup Wonderland. Feel it. It is here to bless our lives in more ways than you can imagine. Whether Bafana Bafana, who are punching above their weight at this tournament, progress or not… this World Cup represents so much more for our nation.
We are blessed to have this wondrous thing in our midst in our lifetimes. Continue to embrace it, my fellow South Africans. Be “SA-positive”. Lift yourself from your eye-moistened desk, look at your Uruguayan tormentor in the eye and gee vir hom ‘n moerse klap. Oops! I meant to say, “smile and wave”! Now get out there and show the world what we are made of. Gees. And ask of our beloved Bafana Bafana to show the same against France. They won’t let us down.
And, those of you who dumped your “SA-positivity” in the seat you prematurely abandoned last night… South Africans don’t do that. Keep it real. I’m watching you!
* I have joined the London Guardian’s phenomenal World Cup Fans Network for the duration of the World Cup football finals. If you would like to read what I’m saying about Bafana Bafana and get tongue-in-cheek tweeted updates during the matches, follow my tweets by following me on Twitter! If Facebook is more your social media thang, go to my Facebook profile and request to be a friend or simply join the \”Fred Hatman\” group for updates on my latest blogposts.
We South Africans are in no hurry to forgive the London tabloids for the trash they have spewed out about our beautiful country and equally sublime World Cup.
In fact, I have a good mind to approach those copies of the Daily Mirror (they have had the audacity to publish their tripe in South Africa during this World Cup) piled up at the Stanford Spar and do something unmentionable to their front page. But, since I have signed the Fifa pledge to be nice to all foreigners except Cristiano Ronaldo for the next month, I won’t.
Thank goodness, then, for the Great British Sense Of Humour. As displayed by these two wags (not WAGs) who produced a quite stunning poster during the Brazil vs North Korea game last night.
Please, Hatpeople, allow your mince pies (eyes) to feast on this thing of knee-whacking humour…
Nice one, lads! Pic: Tom Jenkins / The Guardian
I do like that. A lot. And there’s no way the DKR (Dictatorial Republic of Korea) fans were going to get away with waving that baby around, what with The Great Leader probably watching on his mammoth flat-screen in his palace back in Pyongyang.
* Thanks for use of this pic to The London Guardian which is providing extensive and very balanced coverage – unlike their tabloid brethren – of our World Cup. In fact, I have joined the London Guardian’s phenomenal World Cup Fans Network for the duration of the World Cup football finals. If you would like to read what I’m saying about Bafana Bafana and get tongue-in-cheek tweeted updates during the matches, follow my tweets by following me on Twitter! If Facebook is more your social media thang, go to my Facebook profile and request to be a friend or simply join the \”Fred Hatman\” group for updates on my latest blogposts.
Right. Nobody is more “SA-positive” than me about our increasingly beautiful World Cup.
And I am loving the football fans who have come to experience the first African staging of our planet’s premier football tournament.
Especially the ones who have chosen to embrace the South Africanness of this World Cup. And most especially the ones who have entered into the uniquely beautiful human spirit of our party and parp vuvuzelas in their nation’s colours.
Now, here’s a succinct and simple message to the rest: “Don’t you dare touch us on our vuvuzelas.” And stop trying to impose your social mores on we South Africans.
We have been very nice to you so far, going out of our way to welcome you to our warm-hearted country and making every effort to help you feel at home. So don’t think you can come here (or sit in your faraway lounges) and colonise the way we celebrate soccer!
How rude. How patronising. We blow vuvuzelas at South African PSL (Premier Soccer League) matches weekend in, weekend out. And we’re not going to stop just because you prefer to sing songs – often obscene and abusive towards your opponents – and make provocative gestures at people wearing different colours on the other side of the stadium.
We South Africans prefer to celebrate the beautiful game by parping on vuvuzelas rather than chanting obcenities at opposing fans
I was at Italia 90. I’ve stood with the Liverpool away support and had coins thrown at me by Manchester United’s Stretford End. I’ve been chased by Leeds United hooligans through their city after a match at Elland Road. I’ve stood next to shaven-headed thugs at The Den while Millwall’s filthiest directed monkey chants at John Barnes and threw bananas at him. I’ve experienced the hate of the Ultras at Serie A matches in Italy. I’ve been caught up in scuffles and nearly run over by a Metropolitan police horse outside West Ham United’s Upton Park.
I could go on and on and on. But I won’t. There are many societal issues that need fixing in my country… but football hooliganism isn’t one of them. We South Africans know all about racial abuse. it is well documented. I don’t need to attempt to describe what South Africa has been through. We are doing what we can to build a nation. The vibe around this World Cup is taking us forward in mighty leaps and bounds. Vuvuzelas, makarapas, giant sunglasses, diski dancing and our inclination to express ourselves in a overwhelming generosity of spirit is, I believe, without parallel in world football.
This is how we blow in South Africa. Get over it!
Do not tell us how we should enjoy ourselves at our World Cup, even if we have extended to you the most magnanimous of invitations. How dare you? How dare you tell us to stop making a noise so that your cheapshot chants and silly songs can be heard? We have grovelled, we have scraped and we have apologised non-stop for 16 years for the horror that was apartheid. Enough is enough. We will not tolerate being told by sanctimonious twerps with superiority complexes living in boring and over-regulated countries how we should run our World Cup. And we will no longer stand for the fatuous trash spewed out about our nation by the British tabloid gutter press. As John Major didn’t quite say, put up AND shut up!
Africa may seem a somewhat chaotic continent to you with your over-polite, mannered and absurdly “politically correct” social regimes but we actually like living a bit on the edge. We thrive on adventure, a bit of danger and the constant frisson of excitement that comes with living alongside unpredictability and more than a tad disorganisation. That’s how we roll in Africa.
So I’ll say it once and once only: Buy, borrow or steal some earplugs and dare to join the greatest party on earth… or stay at home, switch off the telly and stick to trimming your hedges.
* I have joined the London Guardian’s World Cup Fans Network for the duration of the World Cup football finals. It is a phenomenal concept, one which uses Twitter to bring the voices (or tweets) of fans from all 32 competing countries together on one forum for the tournament. If you would like to see what I’m saying about Bafana Bafana and the impact on South Africa of the biggest sporting event to ever be staged in our beloved country, follow my tweets by following me on Twitter! If Facebook is more your social media thang, go to my Facebook profile and request to be a friend or simply join the \”Fred Hatman\” group for updates on my latest blogposts… which are not only about the World Cup!
After falling out of bed at Hatman Mansions at 5.45am in our sleepy village of Stanford this morning I stood – as is my habit – on The Blogorandah (my verandah), sipping last night’s cold tea, took a lungful of Marlboro and called for that bloody cat which does little else than stare at me.
But, even before Teapot had had a chance to issue forth its first miaow of the day, the haunting sound of a far-off vuvuzela caressed my ears. Yes, I said “caressed”, not “assailed”. For I am truly “SA-positive”, remember?
This lone vuvu wailed from the direction of Die Skema, the place on a hill above Stanford where the coloured Stanfordians mostly live. This vuvu-parper was getting his lungs warmed up for the midday call for South Africans to parp their support for our beautiful World Cup, now merely a matter of a couple of thousand minutes away. Can you feel it? Can your hear it? I could… from one of the creases inside the very distant Overberg!
But nothing prepared me for the outbreak of vuvu fever which resounded around our country today. This was reflected on the social media networks, where the hashtag word “vuvuzela” became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter and Facebook was awash with updates expressing joyous surprise at the level to which World Cup ecstasy was taken.
Let’s take a gander at what that looked like… and then I’ll throw in a video of Cape Town’s Long Street in vuvuzelic eruption for you to enjoy!
Twitter went vuvulistic, sending the word "vuvuzela" into the Top 10 trending topics worldwide! Paaaarp!
Facebook had a "feel-it" day with my fb friends spilling out of their skin to tell the world that South Africa was officially the noisiest country on the planet today!
How was that? Er, no, sorry, there is no known cure for “yellowshirt fever”… so let’s all just die happy! Even Julius Malema, the chastised and somewhat chastened leader of the ANC Youth League, tweeted out his support for Bafana Bafana and urged the country to unite in blowing their vuvuzelas for this World Cup. How do I know this? Well, JuJu and I, er, follow each other on Twitter, don’t we?
There you go... JuJu sings his "Kiss the Vuvuzela" song to the nation. And who, might I ask, would argue with such sound logic?
How cool is that? Amazing how Julius has calmed down since Sepp Blatter, Godfather of the Fifafia, became South Africa’s Public Enemy No 1, hey? Still, Jules, if you’re reading this – and I know you do – give me a shout anytime you want to send out another of your press releases to the good people of South Africa.
But I digress. Here’s that video I promised you. Sent over by my totally rad mates at CapeTownAlive! and filmed with the help of supercool video-sharing website Zoopy…
Nice. Now that’s what I call a country on the verge of giving the planet its craziest, most beautiful, friendliest, most human-spirited World Cup yet. How does that make you feel in your tummy? Warm and fuzzy, hey? Yes. I’m happy. Because, as your only “medically diagnosed SA-positive” blogger, that’s what I am on this earth to do… rub your tummies until they feel so warm and fuzzy. Ayoba!
* I have joined the London Guardian’s World Cup Fans Network for the duration of the World Cup football finals. It is a phenomenal concept, one which uses Twitter to bring the voices (or tweets) of fans of all 32 competing countries together on one forum for the tournament. If you would like to see what I’m saying about Bafana Bafana and the impact on South Africa of the biggest sporting event to ever be staged in our beloved country, follow my tweets by following me on Twitter! If Facebook is more your social media thang, go to my Facebook profile and request to be a friend or simply join the \”Fred Hatman\” group for updates on my latest blogposts… which are not only about the World Cup!
There has been such a noise made by those who won’t hear of the vuvuzela that the debate over whether the host country should be allowed to blow its own trumpet threatens to drown out news of what’s happening on the pitch during this World Cup.
As a proudly diagnosed “SA-positive” South African blogger – and one which, please see above, is not shy to use my country’s choice of “cultural weapon” – It behoves me to educate foreign sceptics about the “vuvu”.
In order for you to get your head – and lips – around the use of our cheap, plastic trumpet, I need you to understand why South African soccer fans just love to create a wall of noise at football matches.
I want you to think more Rio Carnival and less Trooping the Colour.
We are African. We don’t stand on ceremony. We like to express ourselves. And, if that means deafening the opposition on the field into submission, so much the better.
That’s just not football, you cry! How uncivilised, grumble purists of the Beautiful Game.
Quite. But whoever ruled that 70,000 bagpipers couldn’t blow the Scots to an unlikely victory at Hampden Park? Nobody. It’s just that the canny clan have been so busy thinking up rude chants about the English that it never dawned on them to use their most potent “twelfth man”!
So, now that I’ve converted you to thinking that the vuvuzela should be given a fair hearing, let’s listen to how it can used in the right hands…
There. I bet that’s won you over, eh? Right. So, now that you’re rushing off to buy one in your national team’s colours, you have no excuse for producing a one-note drone. I exhort you to get practising on your national anthem. And, if you can’t master that, then simply fall back on playing the South African one. Any way you like. Improvise. Express yourself. Blow it like be-bop, baby!
As I’ve been trying to tell you all along, Bafana Bafana (our South African team) needs all the help it can get. That’s why we’ll do our damndest to blow them to victory. Paaaarp!
* I have joined the London Guardian’s World Cup Fans Network for the duration of the World Cup finals. It is a phenomenal concept, one which uses Twitter to bring the voices (or tweets) of fans of all 32 competing countries together on one forum for the tournament. Visit The World Cup Fans\' Network and follow how fans around the world are viewing the fortunes of their nations at our beautiful World Cup. And, if you would like to see what I’m saying about Bafana Bafana and the impact on South Africa of the biggest sporting event to ever be staged in our beloved country, follow my tweets by following me on Twitter! If Facebook is more your social media thang, go to my Facebook profile and request to be a friend or simply join the \"Fred Hatman\" group for updates on my latest blogposts… which are not only about the World Cup!
Not all of you are totally as one with what football and the World Cup is all about. For those who could be accurately described as soccer ignoramuses to get the most out of their World Cup viewing, here is some sort of non-essential 10-point guide to what they call The Beautiful Game…
1. “Soccer” is really football. Well, this is what it is called in Britain, where the game originated, but that confused the Americans because they already had American football (grid-iron, that game they play while wearing spacesuits). So they renamed it “sarker” (ie soccer, which is an abbreviation of “Association Football”, the official British name given to distinguish football from Rugby Football which, as everyone at the Stanford Arms on a Saturday evening knows, is rugby, or “ruckby” in Afrikaans). It’s fine if you are confused… because we all are!
2. There is a saying, attributed to “a certain Chancellor of Cambridge University” and quoted in the Times of London on January 30, 1953, which goes… “Football (soccer) is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans, rugby is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen”. This appears to be generally true although it perhaps should now be updated to “Football (soccer) is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans, rugby is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen, apart from Bakkies Botha”. Rugby fans could also be forgiven for changing this to “Soccer is a wussy game played by sissies” due to the over-the-top rolling around in “extreme agony” executed by soccer players when they recognise the opportunity to get an opponent cautioned (yellow carded) or even sent off (red carded) after any decent tackle which is unlikely to even result in the tackled player receiving the slightest bruise.
Oh, dear. When soccer players aren't rolling around like big girls blouses trying to get opponents sent off, they celebrate goals like this. Not ideal.
3. OK. Time for some other basic rules. Football used to be played between two teams each consisting of 11 on-field players, a couple of substitutes (who replaced an on-field player if he died) and a manager who would do all the coaching of the players. It is now played by two teams consisting of 11 on-field players, at least five substitutes (who come on to replace a player if he is bleeding in any way or if he has picked up a bruise or if he is feeling tired and feels like a sip of Energade or if his hairstyle has been spoilt or if time needs to be wasted towards the end of the 90 minutes to ensure a draw or a win), a manager, several coaches (goalkeeping, defensive, attacking and general method acting), a psychotherapist, a specialist dietician and a small army of hairdressers. Plus a whole bunch of other hangers-on who I’m not going to bother telling you about.
4. Right. Now the whole point of a game is for one of the 10 out-field players (the goalkeeper, who wears a different colour jersey, generally stays in the goals to try to stop the other team from scoring) to whack the ball using any part of his body apart from his hands into the opposing team’s goal. This is called a goal. And you need to score more of them than the other team to win. If both teams score the same number of goals (eg. 1-1, 2-2 etc) after the “normal period” of 90 minutes, then the match, if is part of a knock-out competition such as the World Cup (apart from the group games), goes to extra-time (two halves of 15 minutes) and if, after that, it is still a draw, a penalty shoot-out ensues. This is a reasonably modern addition to the game to stop a replay having to take place and to indulge the modern fan’s predilection for instant gratification.
5. Fine. Still with me? Good! OK. Player formations. This was very simple back in the day. There was the goalkeeper (who wore No 1 on his back), two full-backs (No’s 2 and 3), a centre-back (No 5), two wing-halves (No’s 4 & 6) and, up front, there was a right-wing (7), inside-right (8), centre-forward (9), inside-left (10) and left-wing (11). Nice and simple, hey? Today, of course, we need it to be more complicated. The goalkeeper has stayed the same and generally wears No 1 on his back but coaches like to, depending on whether the team is playing at home or away and who they are playing against, use a variety of formations: 4-4-2 (four defenders, four midfielders and two strikers), 4-3-3, 5-3-2 or, in the case of Inter Milan’s semi-final second leg against Barcelona in this year’s Champions League (in which they were defending a 3-1 lead away from home) 9-0-1 (nine defenders and one very bored striker). With the amount of money at stake these days, it’s win at all costs, bru. Or get sacked.
6. Talking of money, which we know makes our greedy world go round and certainly makes the very professional round-ball game go round and round, we now get to the really important facts. Top-level players in the English Premier League get paid between 50 and 150 thousand pounds sterling a week. By their clubs. For playing football. Yes. That averages out at about R1.4 million a week. Can you imagine being 25, being of below average intelligence and coining it like that? That’s why many pro footballers get into trouble. After they’ve bought the mansion, the Aston Martin, the Lamborghini and the gold-plated Playstation, they often start spending the rest on naughty things, get caught out by a tabloid newspaper, have to explain their behaviour to their girlfriends and mummies and become even more famous. And then they carry on playing football, become even more famous and get paid more money. Nice work if you can get it, hey?
Victoria Beckham: Well ropey. With a WAG like this, a footballer could be excused for playing away. Or sticking to kissing his team-mates.
7. Because these players earn so much dosh for doing so little and become so famous, they usually only date topless models and then marry fully clothed models and dodgy pop singers. Yes, like Victoria Beckham (formerly Posh Spice). Even if you know nothing about football, you will know about this phenomenon. WAGs (or Wives And Girlfriends). Then famous footballer and famous wife “endorse” all sorts of washing-up products, shampoos and budgie cages and become even more wealthy and famous. And this is because many among us like to watch Gossip TV, read OK! Magazine and believe all the dross put out by agents and ad agencies who live similar lifestyles. I’m not at all jealous. No, really. But I digress… back to football.
8. By the time you read this, there will be less than two weeks to go before the World Cup opening ceremony at our magnificent Soccer City Stadium in Jo’burg. It’s a great shame that it is not called Nelson Mandela Stadium instead of being made to sound like a giant shopping mall selling only footballs. But there’s nothing you and I can do about that. What we can do is choose to embrace the 2010 World Cup being held in our beautiful country or not. It’s up to you. Unless you live here in Stanford, our tranquil oasis, and don’t buy newspapers or switch on the TV for a month. In which case life will continue pretty much as normal. But I urge you to take an interest in the most wonderful thing to ever happen to us. Buy a Bafana Bafana jersey (make sure it’s not a fake), blow a vuvuzela (but not after 10pm at night and certainly nowhere near the Arts Cafe where you’ll only upset the cappucino crowd) and at least attend the local soccer tournament being held on the village green on June 11. It’s going to be a lekker jol.
9. There will be 32 nations represented at this World Cup. They include Brazil, Italy, Germany and Argentina (who take turns to win it) and countries such as Honduras (somewhere in South America), Slovenia (which used to be part of another country and is somewhere in the Balkans) and the USA (which used to be restricted to North America but now seems to be everywhere). The 32 squads are split into eight groups of four. The top two teams in each group after the group games go through to the last 16 and start the knock-out phase until two teams are left to contest the final on July 11. I exhort you to be patriotic and support Bafana Bafana (which translates into “The Boys” in English) but you’d be delusional to expect them to make the final. But we live in hope. And we South Africans are better at living in hope than winning really important international soccer matches. So you never know.
10. OK. Please focus. This is the most important thing about the World Cup. I’m really sorry about all those locals who got really excited and turned their homes into guesthouses for one month of football in the hope of making a quick buck and becoming as rich as Wayne Rooney. It was never going to happen. And it won’t. Football fans the world over are generally working-class and won’t spend much on anything other than alcohol, take-aways and riotous visits to various brothels. They’d rather sleep on a park bench and have more cash to spend on beer the next day. No, the “Big Win” for South Africa will come in a couple of years’ time when those billions of wealthier people all over the planet, after watching South Africa show off it’s natural splendour and human warmth during the World Cup, might decide to take their holidays here. And bring aircraft carrier-loads of dosh to throw at game parks, hotels, wine estates, restaurants and fancy shops. So the real spin-offs will be felt in years to come. So much to look forward to. Be patient. Just as well we South Africans are good at doing that too, hey?
*This article was originally commissioned by Stanford River Talk, the excellent community newspaper for the ridiculously beautiful village of Stanford in the Western Cape, and appears in its June issue