FIFA food for thought

Being in the south Africa/sports mood I rented Invictus (first movie I've rented in a long time) and it being the perfect Clint Eastwood film, it had all the right emotional elements. The slow motion at the right moments, the music, the heavy looks....and of course Morgan Freeman as the Man himself. Since reading A Long walk to freedom I have a god-like admiration for Nelson Mandela.

Anyhow, the story is about how Mandela uses the national rugby team as an emotional conveyor to break apartheid. The national rugby team until then being an Afrikaans sport.... So the team goes on to win the world cup and flags are going and whites and black are cheering and celebrating in the streets together....I Cried a little.

Of course this was just a movie but it does remind us how powerful sports really are. Though sometimes we mock them saying "WOW all that for a bunch of men chasing a puck or a ball...." Yes of course and then there are the idiots who riot and fight over opposing teams.

However, on a greater level sports bring people and nations together like nothing else can. North and South Korea have marched together at various Olympic opening ceremonies, they say when the Ivory Coast qualified for the World Cup in 2006 it helped speed up peace talks between opposing forces of the civil war....Sporting events are a beautiful demonstration of how nations can put their differences aside for one common goal.

At the top of sporting events is the world cup. Maybe not because of the event itself but because of the sport. Football or soccer is the single most followed and loved sport. I can say firsthand how in little lost villages in Africa not only do they know every result in every league but they never miss a practice themselves. In Myanmar where there is no influx of information, every little tea house has a generator and satellite dish to follow every league game at 3AM!

Also the beauty of soccer is how all you need to do it is the love of the sport and a ball (and sometimes anything resembling a ball will do). It seems almost all the great ones have also a great story from growing up poor and playing in the streets to signing a billion dollar contract with Real Madrid :) It adds a fairy-tale like aspect to the game, a game that is open to every part of the world and for people of every background.

So although it does monopolize our life for over 3 weeks and some people do take it a little to the extreme, it's nice to stop and remember that even though your team might not win, it is a truly incredible event!


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