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Ke Nako

June 11, 2010
tags: ,

Or in translation, “It’s Time”. Yup, it’s time for the World Cup. That every-four-years world party celebrating the game of football (or as we Americans call it: “soccer”). I’ve always loved the world cup. I remember my first introduction to the event in 1998 when my family was traveling through France. That very same year that France was hosting the World Cup and I was lucky to see the madness. The streets were swamped with face painted fans, people from all over the globe roamed the streets draped in flags, and every bar was filled with crowds cheering. Even as we biked through the countryside evidence of the games were all over the place. Different towns who hosted particular countries had hoisted flags and greetings along the roads. It was an amazing spectacle, and one I will never forget. The entire world was assembling en mass to celebrate a single sporting event. It was so amazing to see so many different people come together and treat strangers like family. That is such a wonderful thing about this event, and such a wonderful thing about sports in general.

I believe sport teaches us about life, and not just how to play a game. In fact I think sport is the perfect analogy to life. It teaches us the importance of team work, following the rules, and fair play. It teaches us that life has a time limit and it teaches us the importance of setting goals for ourselves. It gives us challenges, and gifts us with the feeling of accomplishment when we overcome them. But most importantly I think sport has the ability bring people together. Sport has the ability gather people of all races, creeds, and class for a single cause. It enables an equalized playing ground where everyone must play by the same rules and respect each other. It’s why I love the Olympics. But more so than the Olympics I think the World Cup has even more universal appeal. I think soccer may be the most important sport simply because it does have such universal appeal. It’s a sport that nearly every country on earth plays, and is at least a sport in which every country on earth could play. All you need is a field and a ball. The rules are easy- kick the ball and get in the goal. It promotes team work as well as individual skill and talent. The equipment is affordable to almost everyone (even shoes are optional). And in countries where the equipment is not available those who truly love the game still find a way to play; such as the female Brazilian player Sissi, who used to kick her doll’s heads when she couldn’t find a ball. But back to my main point. The World Cup’s global appeal gives it the unique capacity to be a tool towards World Peace if is used correctly.

The Nike commercial above is correct about the power of soccer. It can influence the stock markets, control pop culture, or set an entire country into a frenzy. But more importantly soccer has has brought the world’s attention to South Africa and to Africa as a whole. South Africa being a country that practiced racism in the form of apartheid until just last decade.  And Africa being a continent which still continues to fight against war, poverty, sickness, political corruption, unbalanced material trade, and so many other road blocks restricting development. Having the World Cup in South Africa not only supplies many much needed jobs and tourist income to the area, but places a global spotlight on the region. It has the potential to both show the kindness of its people and to call attention to the impoverished areas of the country. Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to be right along with the drunken masses cheering for my team. But overall I think the World Cup means so much more than who wins. To me the World Cup is about galvanizing the world towards mutual respect and peace through sport.

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