Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Last Post

July 11, 2010 has come and gone.

I worked for the better part of 3 years to get myself in a position to make it to South Africa and watch the final in Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg.

Unfortunately, it was not meant to be.

Having said that, watching Sunday's final between my adopted country Spain and Holland felt right.

Undertaking a project of this magnitude by yourself is always daunting. There were many times I wanted to give up, simply because the scope of the endeavor was vast. I'd never done anything like this before ... who did I think I was?

But as time rolled by, it became great fun. I learned more and more about the intricate world of African football, the happy demeanor and joyous breadth of anecdotes that dot the continent. Besides that, I met some incredible people: people I'll consider friends for the rest of my life.

I've learned to pay more attention. Football is not just about South America and the money-rich European landscape. The game's soul resides in the streets of cities like Nairobi, where great people are doing work using the game of football to teach youngsters the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases.

Or in cities like Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where a superstar like Didier Drogba uses his fame to literally calm a civil war.

That's the power of the game. That's something I hold near and dear to my heart.

So I didn't make it to South Africa for the final game. I didn't rub shoulders with Nelson Mandela and Jacob Zuma like I wanted to ...

But I did learn a great deal about the game and myself in the process. And had a blast doing it.

Standing at my local pub in New York City, watching the scenes unfold from South Africa as my team scurried around the pitch with the trophy, I felt at peace.

My life was good. I've traveled an interesting, winding road to get to July 11, 2010. I got to the 'final', sort of speak.

Maybe it wasn't in South Africa. Maybe the final was always a personal journey.

I'll have more information up in the next few weeks for anyone that wishes to follow my journey to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and possibly, the 2012 European Championships in Poland.

Stay tuned. I'm not done yet!!!