Saturday, June 12, 2010

Futbol Mundial-A game of beauty is a joy forever!

This is probably my nth attempt at writing a post on the football fever that is currently engulfing the world. I wanted to post this on the eve of the opening ceremony, but words betrayed me like  silence betrays a classroom full of kids sans a teacher.Basically I was( and still am ) brimming with excitement and anticipation of the world’s most watched sporting spectacle-the FIFA world cup. You can name the olympics and the sporting spirit that it brings along and celebrates, but to me all that dulls and fades in comparison to the passion and the fervor that this soccer world cup generates.

I mean which other sporting event creates this hype and frenzy among nations which are not even taking part.Not only that, it lives up to the reputation invariably. 32 teams wriggle it out for the trophy, but the audience cuts across countries,irrespective of nationality. Teams are ‘favorited’ -you even have opposing camps of fans getting into fisticuffs and the like for a team that has nothing to do with them. Especially the latin american teams-Brazil and Argentina have such a fervent fan following that supporters literally fight it out not sparing any effort to play up their favorite teams.What I’m saying here is obviously so obvious-you needn’t have to read Out of the blue to know this :P

Personally I’ve always followed football, though I can’t say I keenly watch the EPLs and the La Ligas. But that has never prevented me from checking out the league standings and stuff in the news and papers. The world cups, however have always been something that I don’t miss. I remember my first one was the ‘94 world cup in the USA when I was just getting initiated into soccer with all those stories about Maradona, Pele, Baggio,Ruud Gullit and others. Maradona of course was my hero by default- my elders used to describe his ‘goal of the century‘ against the Englishmen in the ‘86 world cup.The disappointment when he had to sit out following drug accusations, is still fresh in memory…

This time, FIFA comes to Africa. The proteas are hosting it, but they have rightly described this as something that belongs to the whole of Africa-a continent bruised,battered and ravaged by decades of fighting,suffering,poverty and hunger. For the host nation though, it is a chance for their populace to be united-a chance to forget the racial divide that still makes its uneasy presence felt even after the days of the apartheid-a chance to rally behind their Bafana Bafana. Sport has that unique quality to banish divisions and mistrust and hatred (within a country I must add!)…

Like every time, Argentina  is my favorite team. Lionel Messi of course is the man to watch out for though I’m apprehensive about club superstars because they seldom replicate their club success for their national teams(Christiano Ronaldo of Portugal and Thierry Henry of France also come to mind).The albicelestes,as they are known , are coached by the mercurial Maradona. I somehow have a feeling they will either come crashing down or go all the way. No intermediates I guess.The other teams that I’ll watch out for-Brazil(come on,how can one miss out on them?),the Netherlands,Spain,Italy(I still hate the fact that they’re the defending champs,coz they just didnt deserve to win the semis against a hapless Australia last time in Germany) and England(only because of Wayne Rooney,and nothing else. I sincerely believe they’re an overhyped side).

So for the next one month , every other sporting event can take a backseat. Even cricket. Even the dignity of Wimbledon. The beautiful game is here- in all its splendor and unmatched glory,as a feast to the eyes of millions worldwide. Nothing else is likely to get your adrenalin pumping so fast.The Jabulani has rolled,so here’s to Africa - Waka waka!! :)