Thursday, July 8, 2010

The World Cup

I woke up at past 1 in the morning. Unable to go back to sleep, I switched on the TV facing my bed. I surfed the cable channels for anything interesting. NatGeo talks about Airbuses falling down from the sky. Discovery Channel shows animals frolicking in the woods. Not the kind of programs that would rouse me at the dead of the night. Catdog is on Nick, Ben10 on Cartoon Network, and as for Animax, I don't remember what show is on. I just wish they would play reruns of Jigoku Shojo again.

Checking the briefs on CNN, I found out that Spain will face Germany in the semifinals in less than an hour. The world has once again set its eyes on South Africa, the host of FIFA World Cup. I don't know much about Football. I never played the game. The sport is largely unknown in this part of the world, where dribbling a ball and shooting it on a ring remains the national pastime.

The World Cup first caught my attention a few years ago. A cute classmate from Ateneo raved about the tournament. He even bragged about sneaking past his parents just to be in a pub somewhere in Makati at past 2 in the morning to watch the game. He would go home at around daybreak, extremely pleased at how the match between two countries turned out.

I was merely an avid listener then. A few years before meeting the Atenean classmate and my best friend (and boylet-boyletan in disguise) would complain about how his brown skin had turned nognog from playing Soccer in the UST field. I wouldn't budge from my seat and instead, still beat him in Need For Speed. Those were the days, which I suddenly recalled after the early morning news has announced that the game was about to start.

"You can watch the live telecast of the match between Spain and Germany at Balls" The scrawny news anchor said on ANC.

Pressing the remote to Channel 34, I found the commentator explaining the players' formation in the field. Their icons flashed on the screen, while thousands of Vuvuzelas trumpeting on the background added to the adrenalin rush before the match. At last, the players from the competing teams were shown standing near the field entrance. They were waiting for their countries to be announced before the hundreds of thousands of spectators who have gathered inside and outside the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

At that moment, I felt one with humanity - or at least, with the elites and expats who have all gathered to watch the match at some pub or watering hole in the financial district. The rest of the country were about to wake up for the morning grind and there I was, curious about a sport I never paid attention once. The drowning sound of the Vuvuzelas briefly died out and the national anthems of both Spain and Germany were played. Queen Sofia of Spain was briefly caught on camera sitting among the masses. Even heads of state travel across the world just to throw their support to the world's favorite game.

As the referee held the Jabulani in his hand, the two teams prepared to face one another. With arm stretched, the ball tossed in the air, a split second moment of silence, and finally the game has begun.

The camera pans out for TV viewers to see how the ball switched sides. Defenders held their ground to keep the opposite team from reaching the goal line. Strikers provided the distraction and the valiant goalkeeper anxiously waited, and perhaps even invoked the heavens for the opposite team to never reach the goal.

I was on Twitter too throwing my support for Spain. I have learned that it was the first time Espana has advanced to the semifinals since 1950. Ill-equipped to even understand the rudiments of the sport, the only reason for supporting the team is my Spanish Class this semester.

Viva Espana! La Roja scored the first goal!

And soon after the first goal, my desire to see the winner waned as swift as my intention to watch the game. It was past 3 am and I still have to go to work at 8 in the morning. Not even watching the hot German players defend their turf could tempt me to stay, for I was already satisfied practicing my Espanol on Twitter while the men kicked the ball and the Vuvuzelas perpetually sends out the swarming sound of jubilation.

I browsed the news later that day and learned that Spain won the match and thus, enters the finals.


~Carrie~ said...

I learned today that Singaporeans were so into gambling that even the world cup was not spared from illegal betting. The government made it legal later on.

On another perspective, I heard that frustrated fanatics really cried on the loss of their team to the finals. Talk about such passion for the game.

soltero said...

hehe i am among those who became addicted to world cup and have seen almost all of the games...since the start, i am Espana all the way!

god, those soccer guys are the hottest athletes! alonso, pique, torres, ramos... the list goes on and on :P

orallyours said...

i was rooting for germany but that damned octopus was right once again hmmp!