I'm not a sports fan, but I have been drawn into the World Cup Football this time. Partly because it's being held in my old home country of South Africa, and partly because the more I've watched the more interesting it has been. From the dramas of France to the gloom of England, from the controversy over the new ball to Paul the psychic octopus predicting the winners...
It certainly has not been boring!
Every game night I've been working my cooking-eating schedule to fit family eating before or between games. Our entire family has been rather glued to the TV. Having watched so many winners and losers come and go I must admit that a lot of the games are a muddle for me at this stage, but one team does stands out for me.
Why Ghana? Well... if you have been following the sport you'll know they were the last African team still in the competition by the quarter-finals. As the last African team playing in the first Africa-based World Cup the whole of Africa turned to them to make not only their Nation proud, but the entire continent proud.
Talk about pressure! It must be stressful enough playing knowing the hopes of your country are on you, but having a whole continent watching you in expectation? Ouch!
And "ouch" is exactly what happened on the night. Ghana basically tried too hard. When it counted the most they tensed up and although they constantly tried for goals they missed far too many times.
Simon Burnton of guardian.co.uk summed it up like this:
Unbelievable penalty drama sees Ghana miss one to win it, and then lose the shoot-out to cheaty, continent-crushing UruguayOfficially Ghana were not the winners and yet, unlike most teams who lost and went back in gloom or shame, they went home to cheering and celebrations.
Final thoughts: The Ghanaians are gutted, predictably. Gyan, who missed that penalty in extra-time, is distrought. I quite wanted Uruguay to win, to be honest, but in these circumstances? They have cheated their way to victory. Within the rules of the game we all love, but cheating all the same.
As the official Ghana Football website reports:
Despite the setback, the Black Stars never let the continent down as they fought to the very last kick of the game backed by wonderful support from the rest of the continent.All any of us can do is to try our best and yet it seems as if modern life only wants those who win at any cost rather than those who try. When you take into consideration how many people there are on this planet it's pretty easy to see that the chances of ever being "The Winner" are slim.
Paintsil said (of Gyan's missed penaty), “It is penalty, anyone can miss it. It is part of football. It is not a mistake, it is not a mistake at all. He kicked it from his heart. We all wanted to win the game but, yeah, we will pick it from there.”
"The Stars fought gallantly, not only making Ghana proud, but the entire African continent," teacher Felicia Acheampong was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Ghana's captain Stephen Appiah said: "We did our best but luck was not on our side... "
Not everyone will get the chance to be THE best, but everyone has the chance to be their best.
Which makes Ghana the real winners, in my opinion....