Football fever, patriotism still high

2010-06-25 13:17

Grace Moaisi spent the first Football Friday since Bafana Bafana’s

exit from the 2010 Fifa World Cup in Mpumalanga’s soccer capital.

It’s afternoon in Mbombela, Mpumalanga, on this first Football

Friday since Bafana Bafana failed to qualify for the knockout stage of the 2010

Fifa World Cup and few flags are flying from car windows.

It’s not surprising that the majority of people in this provincial

capital are not wearing their yellow and green supporter shirts.

But there are those whose spirit has not dampened since the

national team’s match against France on Tuesday afternoon and are proudly

wearing their Bafana t-shirts.

One of those people is graphic designer Jonathan van Zyl.

“I am going to frame my Bafana t-shirt”, he says proudly.

The 26-year-old Mbombela native was not disappointed by Bafana’s

performance.

“I was actually quite amazed at their performance in the match

against France. They were very spirited,” he says.

Van Zyl would find a kindred spirit in the self-employed Lorraine

Naidoo (59) also of Mbombela.

She says: “I’m wearing my t-shirt because I’m proudly South

African. I’m so glad that the World Cup is in our country. I love soccer. I feel

the fever, it is here and it will remain here all my life.”

Nontokozo Mahlakela (40) is a clothes hawker from Lihawu in

Mpumalanga. She says although she hasn’t been to Mbombela Stadium because she

can’t afford it, she goes to the Fan Fest: “My business has grown since the

World Cup began. I’m also glad that I’ve seen people who are normally tsotsis

selling wares at the Fan Fests and working small jobs. Crime is down.”

And who do these soccer-lovers support now that their favourite

boys have bowed out?

“Ghana,” says businessman Jackie Nkosi (40) of Mbombela, “although

not wholeheartedly because if they win they will say we were able to host a

World Cup but unable to go anywhere as a football team.”

“Whoever is playing”. That’s the answer from Rejoice Matseka, a

42-year-old cleaner from Matsulu in Mumalanga, adding: “I’m still feeling that

force because the matches are still going on and as long as the teams are

playing in South Africa, I will support all of them.”

Their favourite team might no longer be playing in this World Cup

but what these yellow and green supporters have in common is their love for

their country and a conviction they will keep supporting the World Cup until the

final whistle is blown.


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