Tuesday, June 15, 2010
One of the few drawbacks about this (or any) world cup is the commanding bargaining position that Budweiser find themselves in. Honest football fans, who want to inebriate themselves against the cold, their own team's ineptitude, or Vuvuzelas... whatever it may be, are subject to Anheuser-Busch's ability to outbid tasty beer companies to the exclusivity of official beer of football. Meaning football fans have to drink this piss-water.
Anyway, as mid afternoon arrived, it was time to leave our base camp and head into the city. Unfortunately this meant missing some of the first half of Japan's clash with Cameroon, and in particular a moment which I know brought a lot of joy to my other half, 5 time zones away.
As the car was dropped at the train station and we exited the vehicle, we were approached (something that happens quite frequently in this neck of the woods) by a lady asking for a jump start. With no cables on board, we gave her a push. And another. And another. Her battery was well and truly goosed and the car wasn't starting, but the point of this anecdote is to highlight an urban myth about exercise in the tropics.
I've heard people commenting in the past that "if I went back home and played football now, I wouldn't have any problems after running around in the humidity of Vietnam." Utter cack. If you are used to breathing in 35 degree air and then exert yourself in 8 degree weather, your lungs will not like it. Now I'm not one for suffering culture shock especially, but I've experienced this horrible phenomenon a couple of times now, and it's one of the few things that take me by surprise.
This was all en route to my first ever International football match, Italy .v. Paraguay. Now, I was already on the South Americans' side, having adopted the lesser known nations from the CONMEBOL region as my teams of choice. This standpoint was only strengthened by the surprising number of Italia branded Afrikaans speakers I encountered on the way to Green Point.
I had a great seat, right on the corner flag at the end both goals were scored. Check out the video to see (and hear). Vuvuzelas deserve their own entry. That will come later.
My impression of the game itself was simply that everything was much brighter than any other game of football I had ever experienced before. The quality of the game itself was nothing out of the ordinary, the atmosphere was forgettable but the experience was made memorable by how vivid and seamless everything was. It was an amazing spectacle. But I have seen dozens of better football games, experienced a hundred better atmospheres.
However this tournament is just warming up.