Just look east

2008-11-21 00:00

THERE is an old Chinese proverb that says each of us wakes in the morning and faces a choice: either we can look west and see darkness, or we can turn to the east and see the sun rise.

Every individual, every man, woman and child, every president and every cleaner … every single person has the power to make this decision, one way or the other, every day.

In SA sport, too many people are looking west. Too many people are opening their eyes and feeling negative.

Ask them about the forthcoming back-to-back cricket Test series against Australia and they’ll tell you Graeme Smith’s team don’t have a chance because they are not mentally strong enough to take on the number one team in the world, because the fast bowlers can’t stay fit for long enough to be a consistent threat and because the batting relies too much on Jacques Kallis, and, on top of all that, we don’t have a decent spinner …

Ask them about the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup and they will tell you nobody cares about the event, and most of the stadiums will be empty and it’s going to be embarrassing because Bafana Bafana are so bad they will lose to New Zealand …

Ask them about the 2009 British and Irish Lions rugby tour and they will tell you the Springboks are going to struggle because the politicians are running the show these days, and national coach Pieter de Villiers is just not up to the job, and because of Cheeky Watson, and Luke Watson etcetera, etcetera …

Ask them about the 2010 Fifa World Cup and they will tell you the tournament is going to be a disaster because the new stadiums will not be ready on time, because there will be electricity blackouts, because there will not be enough hotel rooms, because the transport system will collapse, because the country will simply not be able to cope with the number of international visitors and, of course, because of the crime rate …

Oh, the misery, the misery! What misery it is to be a SA sports fan on November 22, 2008.

What misery? What nonsense!

Fact: SA can overcome an Australian cricket team more vulnerable today than at any time in the past two decades; recently defeated 2-0 in India, they are now battling against New Zealand because so many world class players retiring at the same time has left Ricky Ponting’s team looking something like a young zebra standing in a clearing, separated from the herd, shaking, scared, knowing the hungry Proteas are coming …

Fact: the hitherto underwhelming Fifa Confederations Cup will spring to life in June 2009 when large, hospitable, enthusiastic South African crowds create a fantastic atmosphere and they watch full-strength, top quality national teams such as Brazil, Italy and Spain starring in an eight-nation field, in which Bafana Bafana may just use home advantage to spring a surprise …

Fact: the Springboks will start overwhelming favourites to beat the Lions; all around Britain, rugby people are wondering where coach Ian McGeechan is going to find any dominant players with strong personalities, to spearhead even a respectable challenge in the Test series against the world champions …

Fact: the 2010 Fifa World Cup will be a huge success; only 20 months before the opening game, it is 100% certain that each of the six new stadiums will be finished ahead of schedule (the SA construction industry has excelled); zero-risk electricity plans will be based on generators and stand-by generators (just as they were at Germany 2006), and the transport and accommodation structures will meet the demand, and the tournament will be dominated not by a dread of crime and overbearing security… no, it will be wrapped in African smiles, doused in the same uninhibited hospitality and joy that inspired probably the best ever Rugby World Cup in 1995 and maybe the best ever Cricket World Cup in 2003.

In fact, as we wake this morning, on November 22, 2008, it is easy to look forward to the cricket against the Australians, to the Lions tour and to two fantastic world class football tournaments and to conclude SA sports fans have never had it so good.

Just look east.

•Edward Griffiths is a journalist, author, former CEO of SA Rugby, general manager of SATV sport and is involved in various SA bid campaigns.

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