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"There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."
- Nelson Mandela
Okay, perhaps I'm never going to win a contract to pen headlines for the tabloids, but this is my way of summing up how a nation must feel after witnessing an historic victory against France only to see our team crashing out of the World Cup last night.
It's a bittersweet feeling - pride and excitement tinged with disappointment and thoughts of what if...?
But we have to remember that having a team in the World Cup is one thing. Hosting the event is another.
As South Africans we can be truly proud citizens. This World Cup must surely rank as one of the best in terms of organization, stadiums and tourism-friendliness, despite the doom and gloom predicted by the afrosceptics and perpetual SA-pessimists.
Yet again we South Africans have demonstrated to the world an amazing capability to stage a top class world event with panache. Our enthusiasm, energy and friendliness in welcoming the world has been unrivalled.
Our failure to progress on the sports field has been totally overshadowed by our success in hosting the other thirty-two nations. The positive press that our country has enjoyed during this short period has helped address negative perceptions built up over decades in the outside world where media feast on problems and failure and pay scant attention to good news stories.
Whatever, other people think of us they cannot deny that we are always great competitors, never ones to lie down when faced by seemingly insurmountable odds.
As South Africans we can never be accused of playing small.
Congratulations to all of us.
Now, let's sit back, relax and concentrate on being terrific hosts to the intriguing battle between sixteen other great soccer nations!
In the collective pride, disappointment and enthusiasm that we feel as a nation there is a great lesson for us as individuals...
The true glory is not in winning against - but in serving - our fellow men with graciousness, humility and vibrancy!
Till next week...
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