So I no longer live with the ignominy of coming from a distinctly un-soccery country – and in my extended family, that has been a deep shame, until today… by breakfast time this morning we had discovered the joyous news that 80% of the countries of our collective ethnicity (England, USA, Japan and now New Zealand) had qualified for the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa. It only remained for Ireland to make the grade… hmmmmm… by dinner time that seemed a little unlikely, boo….
Now I am probably the least sporty person I know. And I am married to a man who – in the final weeks leading up to our wedding in 2006 – watched every game but two (that were played concurrently to other games) in the previous World Cup. So I was castigated in the morning for not being quite enthusiastic enough. But I do get it – watching the crowd cheering in Wellington when Rory Fallon celebrated his heroic goal
hooked me into the spirit of my tiny little nation, that always LOVES a sporting hero, making the grade against all the odds. The last time that happened in this sport was when I was 11 years old, and I remember clearly my rugby loving parents getting up in the middle of the night to watch the excitement of little old Aotearoa playing with the big boys of world class football.
And as Akira pointed out tonight, there are nearly as many people living in the greater St Louis metropolitan area as in the whole of New Zealand, imagine if St Louis were to provide the sporting capabilities to qualify for the World Cup. It IS a big deal… and I wish those boys all the best… as for us, well, we have at least four country stakes in the pool right now, so it will be a good World Cup in our house – and I am grateful that to begin with anyway, there will be no more jokes about Kiwis and football. Bring on 2010!