Blogging for the Sake of Blogging (4)

It’s Simple!

I felt good when I woke up this morning! The heavy rain had subsided, I could see some patches of blue sky when I opened my curtains and it is the weekend. Sadly, things suddenly became gloomy when I switched on the TV to watch the news. I was expecting to see some Mandela Day stories. However, the first thing that caught my eye was the headlines running at the bottom of the screen. It read, “Malaysian plane…,” and for a split second, I thought the headline would continue, “… has been found”. Instead, it read, “Malaysian Plane Shot Down, 298 dead”.

This was followed by, “Israeli forces launch ground attack on Gaza”; more atrocious news on what started out to be a good morning.  What exactly is the cause of these events? Well, “political unrest” is a term used in both stories, but we never know exactly what is going on. All we know is that hundreds are dead.

I am no political analyst, so am in no position to comment on the recent events that have transpired in the ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel or the frankly confusing battle that has recently erupted between Russia and Ukraine. I am more concerned about the people in these regions – people on both sides.

Families are being torn apart, communities are being destroyed and many are denied their basic human rights. Children who should be going to school are either hiding in their homes, fearful of the next airstrike or terrorist attack, or joining their brothers, fathers, uncles in battling military forces on the streets.

I find it useless pointing fingers at which side is losing more people; this does nothing more than fuel the propaganda produced by both sides. I use the words “both sides” for a reason.  The world seems to view the conflict happening in these regions from a “whose side are you on” perspective. You support either the Russians or the Ukrainians or you support either the Israelis or the Palestinians, which has now manifested itself as religious battle instead of a political one. It is now more of Jews versus Muslims issue. Sadly, in all this “whose side are you on” nonsense we are forgetting about the innocent lives lost – on both sides.

Whose side am I on? I am on the side of peace, love and logic.

When I see a group of mostly Muslims marching in Cape Town to demonstrate their anger at the Israeli use of chemical weapons, I feel compelled to join, but when I move closer and read their signs admiring Hitler for killing millions of Jews, I walk away – that to me is not logical. Marching in revolt of one atrocity while admiring another is not logical.

However, in all this news of war and death I find it refreshing to get to work and find my colleagues filling boxes of clothes and non-perishable foods to donate to the local children’s shelter as our little something for Mandela Day. It brings back the warm feeling I woke up with this morning. It says to me that often the solutions to the problems we see happening around the world is not about cease-fire agreements or winning wars. No, it’s much simpler than that. It is about uniting for a common cause, looking out for one another and putting our own selfish interests aside to help others.

As has become custom now, here is a little accompanying poem.

 

Three Words ©

 

 

 By Torieq Arendse

 

I feel lucky for where I am today

Fed, sheltered, safe, 3 words too few can say

Not just in my country, but all over the world

Too many places by war in disarray hurled

 

 I feel lucky for where I am today

Loved, protected, happy, 3 words too few can say

Not just in my country, but in many a war-torn town

Where neither government nor rebel will consider backing down

 

I feel lucky for where I am today

Clean, mobile, clothed, 3 words too few can say

Not just in my country but in most of the Middle East

Where daily bombings have now increased

 

I feel lucky for where I am; I truly have to say

And I am sure many of you reading this will also feel this way

In commemoration of man who fought for peace I must surely relay

Let’s help where we can, Happy Mandela Day!

Blogging for the sake of blogging (3)

The Age of the Crying Sportsman

 

Its over, the soccer world cup has reached its conclusion. This will no doubt be today’s hot topic all around the world. Well done Germany and well played Argentina!

I will not go on a rant about the diving, poor refereeing or crying. I will, however throw in my two cents about what we consider to be the “greatest game” in the world.

Yes, we call soccer the “greatest game” in the world and I would agree. I have always believed that one cannot argue with numbers and judging by the billion viewers that a competition like the English Premier League has every weekend, one would be silly to believe otherwise.

I am, however, a bit worried about what the “greatest game” has become. A player rolling around in the fetal position holding his ankle or shin riving in pain only to jump back up once the referee has awarded a free kick has become an all too common occurrence. In any other sport when a player is carried off on a stretcher, you can be sure that you won’t see him again for the rest of the season, let alone the rest of the match. I have lost count of how many times, in this World Cup alone, a player has been stretchered off only to merrily run back onto to the field a few minutes later.

What has happened to sportsmanship and fair play? Do the salaries of some of these players have anything to do with it? One could argue that if your legs earned £100 000 a week, you might be a bit sensitive to the merest protruding toe or lingering leg as well.

It wasn’t always like this. I have been an avid Man United supporter growing up and when it came to World Cups, I have only supported my country and Brazil. Now, however, I struggle to follow the game at all, generally because of the all too common unsportsmanlike behaviour.

I can’t remember ever seeing former Man United captain Roy Keane dive when tackled; in fact, if a player did manage to get him down you could be sure that he would at some point in the match return the favour. I could not imagine him crying at the fact that his team has missed out on a title and not just because his team hardly ever missed out on titles, but because he had the ability to deal with the losses as well as he did the wins.

Back then, a good tackle was followed by a loss of possession and a possible counter-attack. Today a good tackle is generally followed by an exuberant dive by the tackled player, the referee blowing his whistle, awarding a free kick and yellow card and finally being surrounded by the players from both sides screaming at him to either reverse the decision or intensify it – neither of which ever happens.

The age of great soccer and soccer players, it seems, has been replaced by the age of the crying sportsman. I have never seen as many footballers crying at a World Cup as I have at this one. Normally the crying would start later in the competition around about the quarter-finals, but this year every single losing team had a few crying players on the ground when the referee blew the final whistle.

I get that the competition is tough and that players are invested emotionally, but when did the sportsman become incapable of handling the pressure without bursting into tears? And of course all the tears make good TV so the cameras are glued to the player jerking back and forth with his head in his jersey trying to conceal his emotions.

Nevertheless, I feel as though I am painting everyone with the same brush – not fair. I had a debate with my nephew not too long ago. Just to give you some background, he is 17 and an avid soccer fan. He knows every soccer superstar form the English Premier League to the German Bundesliga. When he asked me who I thought is better, Christiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, I promptly replied with the latter – Messi. This had him running out of the room in disbelief. “Messi doesn’t come close to Ronaldo’s speed and skill!” he shouted as he ran back in.

I couldn’t argue with that; Ronaldo was faster and more skilful, but this only strengthened my belief that Messi was the better player. He certainly proved it in this World Cup – the impact he had on his team and the game in general is what got Argentina into the final. But what truly made Messi the better player for me was that diving theatrics and appealing for free kicks and penalties is not part of his game. The same cannot be said of Ronaldo.

 

Additionally, whenever I hear the name Ronaldo my mind drifts back to the one from Brazil. Now that was skill, speed and memorable hairstyles. My view sounds rather ominous, but I assure you I am not bitter about the game – it is entertaining. The Soccer World Cup had me glued to the screen and when Facebook statuses were plastered with hateful words about the beautiful game, I came to its defence. This was a friend’s status from a few days ago:

“Soccer is 90 minutes of pretending you’re hurt and rugby is 80 minutes of pretending you’re not,”

I responded with a “You cannot compare the two sports… and then I posted his status as my own – you have to admit that it was quite funny and in some cases true.

Finally, I would like to send my condolences to the Brazilians and their team. You did rather well considering the nation who hosted before you were knocked out in the first round – you made it to fourth place. To all the soccer players out there stop the crying and leave the diving to the swimmers. End the age of the crying sportsman and bring the beautiful game back to its former glory!

Here is a poem a felt the urge to write after I could not fall asleep after the final last night. It just sums up my experience of the World Cup. It’s called “90 minutes”.

 

 90 minutes©

By Torieq Arendse

 

 Tweeeet tweeeet tweeeet! the final whistle blown

Hang up the flag that you have proudly flown

My country might not have qualified

But what entertainment the beautiful game did provide.

 

I managed to watch every single game

Witnessing unknown players rise to fame

Watching Nemar as Brazil’s talisman anointed

Hearing the boos of the crowd when bitterly disappointed.

 

The group stages were filled with many a surprise

It saw world champions Spain meet their demise

England and Portugal favourites of the crowd

By unexpected teams the next round disallowed.

 

In my country the games came on quite late

Starting at 6 and ending at 8

And starting at 10 and ending well past midnight

Watching every minute, every team’s plight.

 

 Eyes were burning but never giving in to sleep

Watching Miroslav Closer and his monumental leap

Admiring Messi, with his skill almost primal

Steering his team to an epic final.

 

We saw Brazilian hopes disappear down a crack

When Colombia’s Juan Zuniga kneed Nemar in the back

And the referee gave Thiago Silver a yellow card

Which meant that for the next game he’d be barred.

 

The referees decisions were fair overall

It must be said there were very few a bad call

Except when Robyn went down against Mexico in the box

That time the referee was sneakily outfoxed.

 

The 13th of July saw the final game

Argentina versus Germany, their cup to claim

90 minutes to separate the great from the rest

90 minutes to see which team is best.

 

 It says a lot then that at 90 minutes the teams were tied

Extra-time would then the match decide

At the end of the night one team would triumphantly stand

That team was Germany, the team in white with the World Cup in hand.

©

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blogging for the sake of blogging

It is always tricky, your first blog. What do you say? Do you have something to say? If you don’t, should you even consider blogging? Well, today I shall write in my blog simply because I can. I had considered, at some length, what to write about today and then suddenly it struck me – the weird experience I had this morning.

When I woke up I didn’t jump out of bed as I usually do. It was 7 and still dark outside as it is usually is during July in Cape Town. The air in my flat was particularly cold and eerie. The alarm on my Blackberry didn’t seem to annoy me this morning. I could hear it, but its usual “Get Up!” tone didn’t have its usual effect. I grabbed my phone which sleeps next to me every night, if the battery isn’t dead, and put the alarm on “Snooze”. “Just five more minutes,” I thought to myself as I shifted to wrap myself in my blanket again. So I lay there half awake waiting for my phone to start screaming again, but I waited and waited for what felt like half an hour. Eventually I thought that I must have hit the “Dismiss” button by accident and now I was going to be late for work. I turned to check the time again and only two minutes had passed – weird, I know.

Then something even more weird happened – I felt this unusual urge to write a poem about this seeming time shift. I jumped out of bed, switched my laptop on and started typing. The end product was a poem called, “Time Slowed Down for Me this Morning”.

I will edit it when I get home and post it tomorrow!