World cup fever hit Freetown as hard as most other places on the continent and the sports betting, and football jerseys came right along with it. We were hopeful that the african teams would go far but with a national side constantly with the short end of the stick we’ve learned to support with caution leaving room disappointment.
As a standard most people supported the African teams although there was the random England and Brazil fan, expatriates flew their national colors on their cars and we were surprised to discover the diversity of countries represented. There were many different places to watch the football game, as every neighborhood now boasts a local cinema that show sports games year round. The higher end football middle class fans made their way to popular world cup turned sports bars to be apart of South Africa’s perfectly executed 2010 FIFA World Cup. Sierra Leoneans were impressed at the level of development in SA and there were even arguments over whether or not any other country in africa could have pulled off such a colorful football tournament.
I watched most of the games at the Office Bar and Grill with Tunku, the other regulars and staff. Some days were lighter than other but the office crowd of mostly african expatriates and sierra leoneans grew especially large for the african games. The US-England game brought many of the English out to the Office but most of expats watched the matches at Atlantic Beach Bar.
The vibe at the Office was the usual friendly banter and competition. When Ghana beat Serbia the DJ filled the room with Ghana’s most popular hiplife afro beat tunes and strangers danced with friends and we celebrated and i screamed until my throat went sore. It was one of the happiest days of my life. At half time when Ghana scored against Uruguay the crowd at the office had grown to about 200 people and the room went wild. I jumped on a table and danced all through the break with a man i hardly knew. We were all Ghanaians till the end of the match when dreams were destroyed as Gyan missed the penalty. Hearts shattered, and smiles turned into despair, as the african dream disappeared before our eyes.
I was hurt, and as i consoled myself, rationalizing that Ghana was ultimately the weaker side, they had come further than anyone expected. I remembered how hard i had celebrated and how happy and validated i felt when Ghana won against Serbia. A feeling of pride and admiration, a message to the world that we africans were equally as capable even with less resources.
With Ghana out the game we supported Germany. When Germany went out I supported Spain while my friend chose Holland. I got to cheer one last time when Spain’s Aniesta shot the winning goal yesterday while my friend sat in silence as Holland’s hope to be world cup champions came to an end.
We can all go back to regularly scheduled programming for the next four years while we build on our african teams and dreams. Who knows maybe there will be a freak accident and Sierra Leone’s Leones Stars will have a chance. How ever the wind blows atleast i know there will be multiple teams from the continent to support. Hip Hip Hooray for African Unity