2010 WC: Sally Grierson — Gees

The shouting and excitement is over – the 2010 World Cup has come to an end. Congratulations to Spain who are the soccer champions but congratulations to South Africa and it’s people who are the real winners!

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How does one pick a single moment of GEES from a month of excitement? Did it start on the 9th June 2010, with the “Blow Your Vuvzela – united we stand for Bafana Bafana?” – we rushed outside to blow as loudly as possible and felt the spirit of all colours, creeds, religions with a triumphant noise that gave shivers down the spine.

Is gees that moment, shared with a group of friends all dressed in Bafana Bafana shirts in Green Point, just above the glorious stadium? Was it the South African flags flying and vuvuzelas blowing as we watched the first Bafana Bafana game against Mexico? Was it the moment that Siphiwe Tsabalala scored the first goal of the tournament in spectacular style and we felt that surge of hope and excitement that united close friends along with a nation.

Blowing my vuvuzela in the stadium
Blowing my vuvuzela in the stadium

Is gees that moment when I first walked into Cape Town stadium for the France – Uruguay opening match in our city and was awed by the facilities and the efficiency of access and infrastructure or the complete hum of a stadium full of people bursting with pride and energy. It did not matter that no goals were scored – the interaction with French, Uruguayian and South African supporters were what mattered.

Was Gees standing at the fanfest with Table Mountain and city hall as a backdrop and seeing a little kid waving her flag, fans dancing, people interacting and a massive screen showing our dreams and those of the nations playing? Goosebump stuff.

Was Gees that moment when I first walked the fanwalk dressed in orange to support Holland, after my team was no longer a competitor for the title? Or the second or third or fifth time that I walked amidst thousands of fans who took photos of themselves, each other and me with them?

Celebrating in Orange with the Dutch
Celebrating in Orange with the Dutch

Was it that ability to talk to strangers, regardless of language and just smile? Or was it that every passing visitor that I spoke to loved my city and declared without prompting that they would be back with friends and family.

Gees could well be that insatiable feeling that we as Cape Town city and its people have created a tourism legacy. Gees could well have been catching the train from Mowbray to Cape Town, squashed in with commuters and fans alike and a spontaneous outbreak of singing our national anthem, and then Shosholoza in a harmonious rendition that touched every pore in my body.

Gees was seeing the smile on the street cleaners faces when I said thank you for keeping the city clean and seeing the SAPS officers trying not to smile when I thanked them for keeping us safe.

Gees is a friend who supported a new team because he wanted a new outfit to dress up in. Gees is the fact that the most famous animal in South Africa during the World Cup was not one of the Big 5, but a psychic octopus living in Germany!

Gees was realizing that vuvuzela’s became South Africa’s biggest brand ambassador and hearing comments such as: “I hate it when I go to a vuvuzela concert and people start playing soccer”.

Was gees sitting in a crowded bar near the stadium on match day and feeing the energy pulsating? Was gees watching a match at home with loved ones and discussing and debating football? Was gees getting advice on where to get off the taxi from a domestic worker rushing home and concerned that I would have to walk too far? Was gees being in the German club dressed in black, red and yellow to watch Germany play Spain and feeling as though I was in a German beer hall? Was gees celebrating victory or defeat with a group of fans dressed as zebras? Was gees walking on the beach and seeing children building stadiums, not sandcastles?

Was gees making every effort to see every match?

Gees was meeting people from all around the world – Argentinians, Australians, Algerians, Americans, Brazilians, Cameroonians, Chileans, Canadians, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, French, Germans, Ghanaians, Greeks, Irish, Italians, Japanese, Kiwis, Mexicans, Nigerians, Portuguese, Russians, Spanish, Swiss, Uruguayans … and Zebras!

I did not meet someone from every team that played but it was close and I met others visiting from countries that weren’t even competing and just came to be part of it.

Gees was being humbled by an sms from a Dutch friend as the final whistle blew on 11 July 201o which read, “South Africa! Thank you for a great World Cup”.

GEES WAS ALL OF IT, not a moment, wrapped up in a warm fuzzy feeling of pride, excitement & hope. It was singing Nkosi Sikelel’ I Africa and dancing to the Waka Waka, it was anxiety and ecstasy, it was sharing and interacting and being and feeling safe and it was all so REAL and ALIVE!

Farewell World Cup but thank you FIFA for giving us the chance and whilst Spain may be the football champs, South Africa is the winner. We were given the opportunity to welcome the world and we said “Ayoba”! We did it.

We gave the World our “gees” We depart this world cup with our heads held high and hearts full of pride.

Africa is not the dark continent many thought it was – so many people around the world have discovered South Africa and so many South Africans have discovered themselves.

I believe that it is the South African people who have made this World Cup a success. The friendship, the welcome, the enthusiasm, the humour, the support, the comaraderie, the unity, and the confidence of South Africans is the true legacy that many will remember.

There is no price that can be attached to a nation coming together. Our very own world icon Nelson Mandela (Madiba) made his entrance to Soccer City at the 2010 World Cup final on Sunday night 11 July 2010 to a standing ovation.

Madiba once said, “Through football, we can celebrate the humanity of the African continent and share it with the rest of the world.” This event was his dream and with it came so many dreams of world peace and a better life for all.

What Now? What Next? These questions may be on everyone’s lips but I have goosebumps thinking about South Africa’s achievements. I am so proud and I believe this is the start of great things to come. Perceptions of South Africa have changed and the hearts and minds of South Africans have changed.

Sally Grierson
I am a passionate Capetonian that trained as a physiotherapist but through a love of travel and many explorations, was drawn to the tourism industry. I now live, work and play in the city that I love and promote!

Thank you South Africa for hosting the first World Cup on African soil and proving the naysayers wrong. I challenge the global community to come and experience Ubuntu for yourselves.

I challenge South Africans to experience their own country like our visitors did. I challenge you to get out there and explore. We have so much to offer and so much happening in our own country.

Sally Grierson

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