Posts Tagged ‘Sport’

So the euphoria of the opening of the World Cup and the thrill of the first match has passed, though the excitement around the tournament is as palpable as ever. Friends are posting photographs of the mass gatherings that were held to view the game against Mexico and images of crowds across the country united in their support of our team are still vividly fresh. All of our divisions forgotten, we’ve been completely¬†united in our efforts to make this thing happen and to cheer on 11 representatives of our country to achieve what seemed impossible.

It’s not the first time that we’ve experienced these things as a country – as so many have pointed out, the unity and euphoria that swept the country when we won the Rugby World Cup in 1995 or the African Cup of Nations in 1996 was very similar. As fantastic as it is to be part of it, I can’t help but wonder what it is about these events that pulls us together as a nation, that makes us individually fiercely proud to be together and identify with something that we ordinarily may not give a lot of attention. I can’t claim to be any kind of soccer expert, but over the last few days I’ve been as passionate as any ardent Man U supporter usually is!

Best I can figure it, I think it’s the inadvertent commitment to something bigger than ourselves that pulls us together. The fact that it’s often sport in this outdoor, contest-driven country is really just reflects a convenient vehicle for the commitment: I’ve often thought over the last few days that much of what we’re experiencing now also feels similar to what happened with the first democratic elections in 1994. I see it as a fundamental principle of life that we can be and achieve our best only when we act in accordance with the basic truth that it’s not about us, and that’s what’s happening now. When you give your wholehearted support to a team on the field that you’re not physically part of, you just can’t make it about yourself: when everyone does that, we put aside a focus on ourselves and replace it with a common effort of something better that we want to achieve. We look to things that unite us, not things that divide us – and see what the outcome is!

I don’t know how long this togetherness will last – though I remember it lingering longer in the past than I thought it would – but I treasure it right now. If only we could retain a common vision that we can all commit to, through whatever tough times lie ahead of us. Maybe we need to host¬†a major sporting event ever year to remind us of what we can achieve and what we can be…

But I guess I could be off the mark in my assessment – maybe it’s only when our attention is diverted onto something shallow (forgive me, soccer supporters!) that we put real differences aside. What do you think, and what’s your SWC experience been like?

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Good on yer, lads!

Posted: March 23, 2009 in Uncategorized
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Well, they did it. A comprehensive thrashing of the Australians saw the Proteas level the home and away series 3-3, which probably turned out to be a fair reflection of the way the two sides played their cricket over the last few months.

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The nature of the victory (an innings and 20 runs) is a little frustrating because it suggests that the South Africans could have done a lot better in the series if they’d just performed to ability earlier in each test instead of having to salvage something from day three onwards. Remember that this victory was a lot more comprehensive than the one that the Aussies managed in their “dead rubber” victory down under. It looks a little like the mental thing raising its head again despite it seeming to have been well and truly beaten in the away series. Old habits die hard, I guess.

Anyway, well done to both teams. Even though I would dearly have loved the final tally to be more in our favour, 6 results out of 6 matches is great to see. Both the quality of the cricket and the exciting nature of the games made this a test series to savour.

Once more unto…ah, blow it…

Posted: March 19, 2009 in Uncategorized
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So the third test against the Australians starts today, with the South Africans minus Captain Biff and staring down a 3-0 whitewash. After the disappointment of the last two tests, I’m reduced to morbid curiousity only on this one.

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That said, I don’t think that 3-0 is actually a fair reflection of the difference between the two sides, so here’s hoping that the Proteas do pull off a dead rubber victory. That would also make the Australians just like their teams of past, which is kinda ominous in its own way…

Once more unto the breach…

Posted: March 6, 2009 in Uncategorized
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Right. After the very poor performance at the Wanderers, the Proteas have an opportunity to redeem themselves in Durban with the second test against the Australians starting today. They should certainly have got all necessary wake-up calls by now: time to perform as we know they can. Go for it!

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Happy South Africa Day

Posted: January 26, 2009 in Uncategorized
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Not being one to gloat, this is a difficult post to write. Kinda. Almost. Well, not really.

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Having beaten the Aussies 2-1 in the test series, the Proteas today beat them in the 4th one day game in Perth to take the limited over series as well with an unassailable 3-1 lead. After limiting the Australians to a below par 222, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers cantered home with a pair of 80s to cap a wonderful tour for South Africa.

All this on Australia Day, too. Though they still have some excellent players, there can’t be too many Australians still claiming they are the undisputed world champions in any form of the game: South Africa have proved their superior on too many occasions. ‘Nuff said.

Light amidst the gloom

Posted: December 31, 2008 in Uncategorized
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So they did it! 2008 was a tough year for most of us, but not so for the South African cricket team. They completed a remarkable year by taking the series in Australia with a 9 wicket win in the second test at Melbourne. As usual, Cricinfo has all the news and reviews, including this pic:

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This caps off some great series achievements in 2008, including a draw in the notoriously difficult India and the first series victory in England in 43 years; finally toppling the Aussie giant, though is the sweetest victory of all.

There will always be a part that wishes that the Australian team we have just vanquished was not the shadow of its former self that it now is, but one should not detract from the efforts of the SA team. They are now well on the way to the official no. 1 spot (which they probably already occupy unofficially) and, for the first time that I can remember, it’s a position they look to be quite comfortable in occupying.

Better believe it!

Posted: December 21, 2008 in Uncategorized
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South Africa’s cricket team shrugged off the ghosts of the past to record a fantastic victory in Perth today when they chased down a target of 413 to win the first test by a margin of 6 wickets.

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The thing that has everyone talking is the way that the team held onto a belief that anything was possible and didn’t give in to the doubts that have so often in the past defeated their inherent abilities, particularly when playing against Australia – the number one side in the world. It was as though, in the past, they were afflicted by a nagging voice that told them they weren’t actually good enough (despite so much evidence to the contrary) and that ascent to the very top of the ladder would only expose them, not confirm them. In this case, everyone is saying, there were no signs of that.

There is a part of me that thinks the magnitude of the task (the second highest target ever set) might have helped – nobody anticipated that they would win from that situation and it’s often easier to perform when there is no pressure of expectation. But perhaps that’s being churlish, because I would agree that the team is different in terms of the way they perform in the pressure moments, the captain leading the way. It’s certainly a striking illustration of the difference that self belief makes, and it’s something you need to go with into a situation, not something you need to rely on finding once you’re in it; true of anything, I think.

If you want more coverage, visit the match reports at Cricinfo. As for me, I’m going to sit back, savour the moment and enjoy the deafening silence from all of my Aussie friends…