Monday, October 22, 2007

Hier Kom Die Bokke...

South Africa dropped a massive rugby bomb at the World Cup Finals in Paris on Saturday. The Springboks won the Rugby World Cup for the second time (the first time was in 1995, the year after Mandela's election) by delivering a solid beating to England.

The win means alot to South Africa for a few reasons. First, sports were very segregated in apartheid South Africa. Rugby was historically the Afrikaans sport, Soccer was the Black sport, and Cricket the English-speaking White sport. Baseball was ignored by all except for American exchange teachers (who watched game 6 at 2:30 AM). At one point in history, all South African had to register by their race, which determined the rights that they were allowed or denied. Which sport you played was used as a factor if your race (mostly Black, White, Coloured - a mix of races, and Asian) was in question.

Sports have remained fairly segregated after the end of apartheid, along the former racial lines. However, whenever there is a huge win to celebrate, like a Rugby World Cup win in 1995, an African Cup of Nations soccer win in 1996, or this recent Rugby win, people of all races pull together to support the team, and to celebrate the win.

Just like they do when the Red Sox are in the World Series...

In fact, when the injuries of apartheid were still very sore, Mandela scored huge points all over South Africa by being photographed in his Springboks shirt during the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

Second, South Africa needs something to be excited about. The crime statistics in South Africa are atrocious, the level of poverty that many people live in is horrifying, and the country has the highest population of HIV/AIDS patients in the world.

Third, South Africa didn't even qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, though they are hosting the 2010 World Cup. Hopes are very high all over the country for 2010, not only for a good soccer performance, but also for the world to see that South Africa is coming along. This rugby win gave alot of people hope that South Africa will be successful in 2010 on many levels.

This guy is not worried about any of that...

Kate and Andy made a "Sports Day" of the Rugby Final and watched the Free State Stars win in Bethlehem. The Free State Stars came back from being relegated (sent down to the minor leagues) to being currently third in the Premier Soccer League.

Free State Stars fans have come out of the woodwork (not unlike Red Sox fans when they are winning) and have donned all of their gear.

Their field is about as big as any high school field in America, and they don't have any sponsors, but they draw the fans.

Jomo Cosmos have a far better slogan, however.

Still on the sports theme, but back in Tweeling, Andy has started an Ultimate Frisbee team with a group of volunteers from the Rainbow Clinic.

They played their first muddy match 2 weeks ago on Refeng-Thabo's field and tied a team from Frankfort. Andy has requests from schools both in Tweeling and Frankfort to come teach about "that thing that you were throwing last weekend."

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