On Target
July 16, 2010
World Cup lessons

The 2010 FIFA World Cup is over, and Spain has emerged the winner. Congratulations are in order for them for lifting the title for the first time.{{more}}

Certainly, the victory has come at the right time as that country is rocked by austerity measures, and a united front for Football can be used to cushion some of the economic tremors.

That is what the four year wait for Football’s most prestigious reward offers. It is worth its weight in gold. That is the dream of every footballer.

So the passion, the tension, the aggression, flaring of tempers at times must be understood as the persons involved want the title of world champions very badly.

But South Africa must be congratulated for putting on a spectacle for the world to see. Commendations must go out to them as they sought to sell their country.

Many had doubted South Africa’s ability to stage a successful tournament, but the matches were played before mostly capacity crowds. What was significant, though, was the joyous atmosphere at the matches. It was the competition’s first to be held in Africa, and the important thing was that it was free of any major incidents.

Importantly, the World Cup brought people together. The World Cup had a special momentum, linked with a history of freedom and the history of one man, Nelson Mandela. Mandela, now 92, upon release from prison in 1990, spoke of peace and understanding. His dream was to take the World Cup to his country.

Mandela brought the World Cup to South Africa.

Everyone now knows about the vuvuzela, a South African musical instrument. Some complained about how loud it was, but the trademark impression it made was what was important.

I am certain that from here on, other hosts of major world sporting competitions will be seeking to outdo the South Africans in developing and promoting a feature that will create an identity.

On the actual field of the play, the first round of matches was not that highly competitive and was generally scrappy. However, during the round of sixteen, the temperature changed and things got better and better.

One thing for certain is that the 2010 World Cup has shifted the balance of power, as there seems no longer to be that gap among the “top” teams.

The likes of New Zealand left the competition with the world’s eyes on them, as they can be cannot now be ranked as minnows, as they did not lose a match, but failed to get to the next phase.

Similarly, former winners, France and Italy, learned the hard way as they were eliminated after the preliminary round.

With the general administration of the finals graded good to fairly good, the issue of the use of technology must be given serious consideration. The USA, England and Mexico were definitely hard done by genuine human error.

But what have Vincentian footballers, administrators and lovers of the sport taken away from the month long exercise, which they had the privilege to view via cable television?

Whilst Football here is still at amateur status, one could have gathered that much preparation went on among the various teams, which are all professional units. However, we should at least strive for some accepted level of competence and higher standards.

Vincentians undoubtedly took to the World Cup. Interests ran high and support was evident for the major teams.

But it is only if we as a people show moral support for our own that a brighter day could be on the horizon.

So passionate were the two youngsters at a local establishment that they stood at attention and observed the Brazil national anthem being played in the quarter final.

Whatever the appeal, the hype, the fanaticism, let us all use the Cup and what it served up to build a sports culture and better sports in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

No lessons are being learnt from the continued presence of the Mound at the Sion Hill Playing Field.