It’s official …South Africa 2010 has kicked-off and the greatest show on earth has come to life ! With over 200 countries from across the globe having competed in the qualifiers and just 32 of the best making it into the exclusive finals, this once-in-four-years event is undoubtedly the mother of all World Cups […and perhaps the only true one] !
As with the previous two World Cups, my full-fledged support is for England …..though I know they won’t make it past the knock-out stages 😛 The likes of Germany, Netherlands, Argentina and Spain have far better chances ! But that didn’t stop me from donning my England T-shirt and joining the festivities on the streets of London on the evening of England’s opening match against the USA. And what an ambience it was – English flags flying high everywhere and almost everyone sporting the England red and whites 🙂 Sadly though, my hopes of catching the action at Trafalgar Square didn’t materialise, as the large public screens I thought they’d put up there, were not to be seen […apparently taken off due to security reasons :(]. And it was plain to see why – almost all pubs in the vicinity were bursting at the seams. Most of them had been pre-booked weeks in advance and the burly bouncers denied entry at most doors.
To my luck, I managed to sneak into a small pub near Piccadilly, but it was only after the match started that I came to realize that it contained mostly American supporters. Chants of ‘USA…USA’ drowned the voices of even the most boisterous English supporters in the pub, and I for the first time started to feel a little out of place in my red Tee. Nevertheless, I didn’t stay until the end of the match as I had a train to catch.
South Africa 2010 is my first World Cup experience in football-crazy England and it couldn’t get better than this. Looking back, its interesting to see how my life has changed over the course of the World Cups. I was after all, born in the year of Espana 82, and was a wide-eyed 4-year old in Kuwait during Mexico 86. But my earliest recollection of following the World Cup is during Italia 90, when we were still based in Kuwait and my brother had a nice World Cup sticker collection book that he religiously maintained. In the finals, I had supported […influenced by the people around me], Maradona’s Argentinian team, and I remember I was disappointed when they lost to the West Germans.
Italia 90 had happened just a month or so before we went on holiday to Italy and a few months before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait that drove us out of the country, back to India.
When USA 94 happened, I was a school-kid in Thrissur and had just returned from our first visit to Kuwait since the invasion.
France 98 was the reason we finally got cable TV at home in Thrissur. Ricky Martin’s hit single ‘Cup of Life’ was the official song and this time, I had just returned back to India after spending two years going to school in Kuwait.
Korea-Japan 2002 saw me as an Engineering student at Coimbatore and that was when I first started supporting England, being a big fan of Beckham.
When Germany 2006 happened, I was comfortably settled in my job at Bangalore and thanks to my good friend and roomie Prashant, my cousins and friends from office & outside, this has been my most enjoyable World Cup so far ! Prashant and I had watched most matches over bottles of chilled Kingfishers in our studio apartment and the pubs of Bangalore also presented us with neat venues to catch the action 🙂
And finally, here we are in South Africa 2010 !
A lot has changed in my life and in the world around me, since Espana 82, but one thing that has perhaps remained constant is the fact that no team that I have supported has ever won the World Cup 😦 ….which begs the question, should I start supporting Brazil, perhaps ?
“Waka waka , eh eh ……This time for Africa !”