World Cup and Festival Nostalgia

I can’t believe that the World Cup is over…I’ve gotten so used to watching the games all the time and listening to Shakira’s “Waka Waka” and K’naan’s “Wave Your Flag” every minute. It was quite a finish to the tournament, and I was very excited to see a final between two teams who had never been to the finals before.
US-Ghana Match

Thanks to Grassroot Soccer and streetfootballworld, I made it to several more World Cup games, including the US-Ghana match and both of the quarterfinals games that took place in Johannesburg—so amazing!! It was heartbreaking to watch the US lose, and then to watch the Ghana lose, but WOW they all ended up being some of the most exciting matches of the tournament. During the Ghana-Uruguay match, we were sitting right behind the goal where the penalty kicks were shot, and I felt that I was right next to the players as some celebrated and some cried. Again, I really want to thank Karti from GRS and Vladi from streetfootballworld for giving me the chance to go to the games.

My roommate from high school, Julia, joined me at the Spain-Paraguay match. Julia has stayed with me in Sandton during the festival, since she has been working on the launch of an invention that she and three other Harvard students came up with called the “Soccket”. It’s basically a soccer ball that when kicked around stores up energy and then can serve as an outlet for items such as lights. She and her colleagues are hoping to officially launch the “Soccket” soon, so keep your eyes out for it! Today, we actually went to Red Pepper Studios since Julia had been invited to appear on a South African TV show called Frenzy that will air in August. Here is a website about Julia and the “Soccket”:

Julia and me at the Spain-Paraguay match

Rob and me at the US-Algeria match

I also ended up going to a number of World Cup games with my friend Rob from Boston. Rob is about to start a study-abroad program in Cape Town, but came early to attend World Cup games and blog at the Football for Hope Festival. Very clever strategic planning with the timing of his study abroad program…

Wathcing the WC Final at Zoo Lake with Julia, Anna, Lena, and Jordan and David (not pictured)

I also can't believe that the festival is over... I conducted 2 mini focus group discussions on Monday. The first was conducted with 4 boys from the following organizations: Street League (UK), Dads against Drugs (UK), Magic Bus (India), and Starfinder (USA). The second was conducted with 5 girls from the same organizations as well as the Mathare Youth Sports Association (Kenya). It was very interesting to listen to the participants discuss the festival, and they often disagreed. One of the most interesting aspects to me was the manner in which both groups discussed Fair Play. During my interviews, most participants had told me that despite the challenges with Fair Play, they would indeed like to play in another Fair Play tournament. In contrast, during the focus group discussions, almost all the participants said that they would prefer to play normal games with referees. I wonder the degree to which the dynamics of the group versus the one-on-one interview played a role in provoking these different responses.

Today, I conducted 2 more interviews with members of streetfootballworld to learn more about the planning process of the festival and how streetfootballworld ended up feeling about the outcomes. I was interested to learn that the activities that were scheduled the first week, as well as the Fair Play rules that were used, were all determined in a participatory fashion: throughout the past year, streetfootballworld sent out 3,000 e-mails to delegations in order to gain their input on these issues.

I am happy to say that I have finished up the data collection part of my research. The next step will involve the data analysis. In the meantime, Julia and I are very excited to visit the Apartheid museum tomorrow. On Friday, I will meet up with Ruvani (whom I had met in my hostel in Durban) to begin our traveling adventure down to Cape Town. We will be taking the Baz Bus, which allows you to buy a 7 day pass and hop on and off as often as you’d like. We are planning on starting by heading to the Sani Pass and into Lesotho!