Saturday, June 16, 2012

16 June 2010 – The Day Joy Turned Into Unimaginable Pain

Clyde Tlou

It’s been two years since the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and Clyde Tlou remembers a match that took place on youth day. This is his journey as he made his way through Pretoria to watch South Africa take on Uruguay on 16 June 2010.

The streets of Pretoria were all green and yellow as the World Cup euphoria grasped the South African capital city ahead of the Bafana Bafana game against Uruguay. All roads were leading to Loftus Stadium or fan parks around Tshwane and the country as a whole.

Fresh from a 1-1 draw with Mexico, many had already predicted a Bafana rampage over the South Americans. June 16 being the country’s historic day to celebrate the lives of young people that fought for the freedom we enjoy today, a win for Bafana would have driven the rainbow nation berserk and the sound of the vuvuzela would have even been heard overseas as well.

I grabbed my bag and all the recording equipment as I didn’t want to miss any second of the fun that awaited me at Loftus Stadium. It was freezing cold and I could feel the damp air penetrating through my skin straight to the bone. One cup of coffee wasn’t enough - I needed four to be able to move my fingers on the keyboard.

The fans were awesome, Uruguayans and South Africans posed together for pictures all confident of their chances. In the media box journalists argued and made wild predictions, but mostly tipping a Bafana win.

Being underdogs just made the South Americas run all over Bafana like wild buffalo. They hammered three in the Bafana net and Itumeleng Khune was sent off which made it all even more difficult. As a young journalist one has to stay as neutral as possible, but it became hard for me. Emotions got the better of me and I found myself shouting instructions from the media box. Maybe I was even live on the TV screens but I didn’t care.

When the man in black blew the final whistle, the green and yellow dominated sea had turned blue as Le Celeste fans broke into frenzy and song. Vuvuzelas occupied the seats of those that had left the stadium, Bafana Bafana fans.

It is the norm that on Youth Day young people around the country go crazy in celebration of the achieved successes, but not in 2010. Tense, grave silence took over. Uruguay had turned a day of joy and jubilation into a day of pain. Maybe I should say Bafana’s thrashing by Uruguay had turned the planned celebrations into sorrow drowning ceremonies. 
16 June 2010 - I will, but forever, remember the day football really tickled my emotions.

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