Thank you, President Nelson Mandela. Siyabonga, Madiba!

     Thank you, Madiba, for gracing the final of the world’s greatest sporting event with your energy, spirit and heart last night!  (“Siyabonga” as we South Africans say.)  

You, Sir – Tata – made it all happen for SA…and the whole world has clearly loved this unique, African experience.  

SPAIN might have won the trophy and the NETHERLANDS came – oooh! – so close to closing down ‘La Roja’, but let’s make Madiba a real winner of this ultimate tournament.   For without his support, none of this experience would have been possible!    

BUT – as in all good stories – there is a fairy tale ending, despite some ‘not-so-great’ football in the final.   And that, my friends acorss the world, belongs to our former President, Nelson Mandela – ‘Madiba’, as we call him, or “Tata” – translated as ‘grandfather’ to most people – more especially!   

It is Madiba’s 92nd BIRTHDAY on 18 July 2010 – a day that is now designated by the United Nations as MANDELA DAY, worldwide.  

They have a slogan for everyone, everywhere: “Make every day a Mandela Day”…and it is so true.  

So – if you wish to leave our iconic South African hero a special message for next Sunday’s birthday, and you are on Facebook, then please click on:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Click-LIKE-to-wish-NELSON-MANDELA-a-HAPPY-BIRTHDAY-18-July-2010/108642919187386?filter=1

Happy Birthday, Tata – you’ve helped our nation come of age.  And thank you, too, to FIFA for all your support and loyalty to this project and helping ensure that it all happened in an awesome-way for ‘beautiful game’ fans worldwide!  

(Brian – Durban, South Africa.)

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Ole! Ole! It’s LA ROJA! Well done, SPAIN – Bien hecho ESPANA!

     What a finale to a spectacular FIFA World Cup in South Africa.   

Congraulations to SPAIN for their 1-0 win over NETHERLANDS, after a wonderful strike by ANDRE INIESTA in the 116th. minute.   Not only are SPAIN the EUROPEAN champions, but now they have officially been crowned WORLD CHAMPIONS.  

Well fought, NETHERLANDS and good luck on your road to Brazil 2014.   We’ve loved having you both play here in South Africa.  

Travel home safely and enjoy the parties back home – espcially to all of you in SPAIN!

(Brian – Durban, South Africa)

NETHERLANDS vs. SPAIN: A giant CLASH in Africa’s CALABASH!

      The Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg symbolizes the African calabash, which is a traditional drinking vessel of our people.  

So who will be drinking champagne from it tonight in celebration of their victory in the greatest football prize on the planet – the FIFA 2010 World Cup?  

Will it be NETHERLANDS or will it be SPAIN?  

Here in South Africa, millions of people speak Afrikaans, a language derived from Dutch, so they clearly have an enormous supporter base through that linkage.   On the other hand, many millions of Africans are massive supporters of teams like Bracelona and Real Madrid, so there will be huge Spanish support because of this.  

South Africa, and Johannesburg in particular, has awoken today to a sea of 2 colours in our rainbow nation – the ORANGE of the Orange Army and the RED of La Roja.  I’m struggling to choose. 

So – I’m going for GOLD.  Gold for South Africa’s wealth as a nation, Gold for the World Cup and football,  and – more importantly – Gold for our iconic leader, former President Nelson Mandela.  

He turns 92 in 7 days time, and, although one team will lift the trophy tonight, for me, the real winner of the whole South Africa 2010 tournament is the great Madiba himself, who made this global spectacle a “dream-come-true” for us, and for Africa.  

His golden example turned into the miracle of democracy South Africans shared on 27 April 1994.  Now, that day of freedom and hope has translated into a month-long celebration that the entire world has been been sharing between nations and peoples. 

So to everyone, everywhere, who made this exceptional event a true world-beater, please spare a thought for this brave man whose life is a beacon of hope for us all, no matter where we are. 

Viva, Madiba.  Viva, South Africa.  Viva, Africa and Viva, Football. 

And I pray he will be able to present the Cup to the victorious team.

(Brian – Durban, South Africa.)

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BTW – there is a Facebook Page called: Click ‘LIKE’ to WISH NELSON MANDELA a HAPPY BIRTHDAY (18 July 2010).  Please become a fan and post your special wishes to him there for this pending milestone of his. And, perhaps, you might even thank him for helping make this World Cup so special for us all? 
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Click-LIKE-to-wish-NELSON-MANDELA-a-HAPPY-BIRTHDAY-18-July-2010/108642919187386

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Please remember: MANDELA DAY – 18 July – worldwide: MAKE EVERY DAY A MANDELA DAY

(A project of the United Nations and the Nelson Mandela Foudation.)

http://www.nelsonmandela.org/index.php

Consolation-Final: GERMANY vs. URUGUAY: Who will be 3rd & 4th?

     While we wait for tomorrow’s big final, the all-important Consolation-Final takes place in Nelson Mandela Bay tonight, in the wonderful coastal city of Port Elizabeth.  Losing semi-finalists, GERMANY and URUGUAY, square up for 3rd. and 4th. place.  

The German team is firm favourite with the bookmakers at 4/5 and the Uruguayans are quoted at 4/1.  

I’m going for GERMANY to win 2-1 in what I think will be a hard-fought match.  URUGUAY is hungry for that 3rd. place and I’m not really sure if GERMANY is equally as hungry.  They wanted a final, and the ultimate trophy, so I think they’ll not be playing at their very best.  

However – I’m still impressed by the skills and talent of this young European outfit and I believe we’ll see this team shape up into a really formidable national side over the next year. 

Whatever happens in PE, my good wishes go out to both teams and all their fan-tastic supporters.  

Thank you all for bringing some really wonderful football and colour to our country and I hope you all go home with great memories of a unique and spectacular FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa. 

(Brian – in Durban, South Africa.)

FIFA 2010 WORLD CUP: South Africa wins…for world football fans!

       This FIFA 2010 World Cup here in South Africa has truly been a tournament of “the people”.   

It is the first time ever, in the history of any sport, that hundreds of millions of football fans from across our world have become so interactive with their teams and the ‘beautiful game’.   

It is YOU – the global FAN – who has now taken complete ownership of this magnificent spectacle!  So please take a bow!  Each and everyone of you reading this today.   

For us living here in South Africa, we know all too well about equal rights and ‘rich-and-poor’ and all the other mighty challenges that life throws up to us all.  

However, I think our nation has risen spectacularly to the challenge of hosting the world’s greatest event on African soil.  I think we’ve shown that ordinary men, women and children – from the four corners of our universe – have a role in building a better field for us all to play on.  

FIFA gave us the challenge.  South Africa delivered the playground.  You, the ultimate fan for this whole event, actually made it happen.  And the whole world wins.  

To end off – a husband and wife football-fan couple (Alan and Kirsty) from England travelled around South Africa during the tournament.  They did numerous posts to their online blog, called Greatescapers.  

As they left South Africa to fly home, Alan – who has now been to SEVEN consecutive World Cups – did this ‘tweet’ on Twitter: 
“Goodbye South Africa. We have had the best World Cup ever.  Don’t care who wins, as South Africa has already taken the prize.”

I say – yes, we might have won, but, to me, this prize belongs to all of you out there.  

And so, to URUGUAY and GERMANY who meet in tomorrow’s Consolation-Final in Port Elizabeth.  Thank you for being here and playing your hearts out. And may the best team win!

And then to NETHERLANDS and SPAIN, who meet for the ultimate title of World Champions at Soccer City in Johannesburg on Sunday – good luck, God speed, and I hope we see an unrivalled spectacle of great football and true sportsmanship.  

(Brian – in Durban, South Africa.)

Here is the Greatescapers Blog link for Alan and Kirsty:

http://greatescapers.wordpress.com/2010/07/06/leaviing-on-a-jet-plane/

If you are interested, here is the link to my Letter to the Editor, about this entire online South African experience, published today in Business Day, South Africa’s leading newspaper in this space:

http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=114296

DURBAN Semi-final: SPAIN & GERMANY to clash in iconic bullring!

– – – – – – Tonight, the maginificent Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban becomes the ultimate football bullring for both SPAIN and GERMANY.  

One team will win and fly to Johannesburg, for a real chance to land the greatest prize in world football, at Soccer City on Sunday.   The other team will fly to Port Elizabeth to play URUGUAY on Saturday for a shot at a consolation 3rd. place.  

SO – who will travel to the weekend’s centre of the global soccer universe and take on the challengers, NETHERLANDS?  

I’ve been battling with this for a few days.  I want both to go through.  However, I’ve made my choice and it is GERMANY to win, by 2 goals to 1.  

Why do I choose GERMANY?  Well, the first reason is that it seems that they are a young, hungry team with a great spirit and flair for attack.  I think that’s needed. 

But, the real reason for my supporting them, since I’m not a knowledgeable football fan, is that the Germans hosted the 2006 World Cup and did a magnificent job.   This has meant that all of those people who helped make that tournament great have somehow assisted us here in South Africa, so we could produce the world-class spectacle that we’ve done. 

So, for me, I’m now punting GERMANY to go all the way to the top, as a massive and emotional thank you to all their nation’s football community, for all their great support for us here in planning and hosting the FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa.  Without this enormous heart and assistance, we would never have reached the heady heights of international recognition for this awesome event that we’ve now laid on.  

Viva GERMANY! 

(Brian – in Durban, South Africa.)

DURBAN Semi-final: 30% chance of light rain

Here in DURBAN, we call ourselves the FUNSHINE Capital of Africa.  But, sadly, not today.  

We’ve woken to a grey day with a little wind and we have the B-I-G World Cup Semi-final tonight between GERMANY and SPAIN in our iconic new stadium.  

Predictions are drizzle later in the day, possibly clearing by this evening.  

Luckily our stadium roof covers most seats, but I would love a glorious, mild winter evening for the many thousands of fans who have filled the city.   Then they could party the night away and experience the warmth and vibe of our city here in the heart of the Kingdom of the Zulus. 

Let’s all pray hard to the global gods of weather for some good fortune! 

(Brian – in Durban, South Africa.)