Waka Waka Guys and Dolls
Today was epic. The opening match of the World Cup. And we were in the fourth row. The seats were phenominal. Special shout out to Professor Hamakawa and his friends over at the Yamahshi Corporation for allowing us to acquire them.
But to talk about the destination, we must first talk of the journey. After an exhilerating wakeup call for breakfast there was a presentation about South Africa by two delegation members. I really enjoyed being half of that team. We boarded the bus to some crazy South African rap music with blarring horns similar to the ones that fill the streets and stadiums of South Africa currently. The group was juiced. We couldn't wait to get there and the rest of South Africa agreed.
In traffic, people were driving cars and holding their massive flags out drivers side windows. In fact, you couldn't avoid seeing a South African flag if you tried. Our driver is a certified boss when it comes to getting around South Africa. This guy knew every short cut and played rough in traffic. Car horns and Vuvuzelas blarred in all directions, not due to traffic but out of excitement. It was as if all of South Africa would be in attendence for the game that marked the first World Cup game in country, or on African soil in general. Let's just say if we thought were juiced, they had a Jack Lelanne blender. It was pandemonium and I couldn't possibly describe to you the atmosphere.
The clutch play of the day was made months before we left. Delegate Michael "Mike" "Mike Who?" Jones made some ID tags which can be seen somewhere on Professor Hamakawa's megablog (check the links section). These tags allowed us to get into a special drop off section that can't be accessed by most ticket holders. They were simply presented with confidence by the driver and although they have no accrediation or authority, they worked. It was one of those moments where you think to yourself and mumble something along the lines of, "Holy shit this security is atrocious." It was like trying to break into a secret spy headquarters and getting into the mainframe only to realize the password is "GUEST." Either way our driver and Mike saved us about an hour of traffic and a mile or so of walking.
We went through the checks and about a half hour later we were insead the belly of the beast. Two hours to gametime and you couldn't hear yourself think. Needless to say we were pretty psyched. The pregame ceremonies were epic. I had no idea what was going on with all the African music and tribal clothing but it was a show second to none. After the song and dance portion, the current South African President (name not known) and the Mexican President (name not important) came out and spoke. The crowd loved it. Unfortunately, former President and South African (hell, international) icon Nelson Mandela couldn't be in attendance because his great grand daughter was tragically killed in a car accident the night prior. It was understood that he couldn't be there but he would have absolutely brought down the house if he made his way onto the pitch.
I know most of you are interested in one thing and one thing only in this post. I will now give you the goods. The concessions review. This was the opening match and occasionally there are some early difficulties. Food and drink areas had some early difficulties. Food was very very reasonably priced by US standards. The selection was small and certain areas ran out of food. Also credit cards didn't work, or were extremely slow. Visa is going to be pissed because they are an official partner or FIFA and it makes them look bad. Hot Dogs, Chili Dogs and Cheese Dogs were strangely all priced the same. Chips and mashed potatoes were available as well. Soft drinks were available for 15 rand (2 bucks) and beers were 30 Rand (4 bucks) each. You could buy as many as you want at a time. I saw one guy with the double "six pack strangler" and another guy with a box of beer. Since Budweiser and Coke had the official pouring rights as FIFA partners, their product was available exclusively. Only Budweiser ("Bud heavy" for the college set) was available. The food was generally nothing special but enough to get you through the game and there were a ton of spots to purchase.
So finally we are up to game time, it is a consensus that none of us have ever been to an event sporting or otherwise that could compare to this. The atmosphere was electric. I cannot stress this enough. The place was going crazy. The match started and Mexico was dominant early. I'm no soccer expert, so I'll spare you my analysis of the game. But when South Africa scored, it was the most exciting sporting memory I have. It was as if they had won a war, landed on the moon, and cured cancer with one kick to the back of the net. It was a great shot and it gave the South African team a ton of confidence. Eventually Mexico scored. The stadium turned into a funeral home, you could barely hear anything. It was like hearing an explosion in the distance while you were underwater. It sounded like there were some Mexicans cheering and you could see them waving their flag in their little sections but you still weren't quite sure.
I'm a firm believer that soccer won't ever be a major professional sport in the United States. My opinion is based on several factors both economic and social as well as the game play itself. But this was straw that broke the camels back, the game ended in a tie. This is viewed by South Africa as a victory because Mexico was heavily favored. To me it was ironic, as if O'Henry and Alanis Morissette wrote something and named it that exact situation. How can a game with so much passion and attention end in a draw? I guess everyone else gets it besides me.
That being said, it was an awsome time. We got out quick at our same special exit place and ate some fast food. We took a virtually traffic free route home and now it is about 8pm and I'm wiped out.
What a day. Tomorrow, we crash England's party. We dump out their Tea and tell King George that we'll pay no taxes. Their gonna think they got off easy in 1812. Look for myself and Dr. Covell holding up the "Don't tread on me" flag because not only do we hate England, but we have been Taxed Enough Already (This political shout out to Tyler is not endorsed by Western New England College, the Center for International Business at Western New England College, or Dr. Covell).