Africa bids farewell – till next year
The closing ceremony of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 was a theatrical experience of music, colour, light and dance. But the pictures of the fans that revolved on the sphere suspended above the pitch were not staged.
The photographs taken of the fans that filled the stadiums over the last two weeks reflected a nation that has come together in a tournament that has certainly given the nation many reasons to celebrate. Later on tonight when Nelson Mandela watches his great granddaughter, Zenani, bring the FIFA Confederations Cup trophy out onto the field at Ellis Park, no doubt he will be smiling too.
The country has shown the world, once again, that it should not doubt what it is capable of. It has also shown the world that the opportunity South Africa has been given to host this tournament and next year's FIFA World Cup™ is about far more than stadiums, pitches, roads and airports. It's about people and working together for a common goal, and it is about reasons to smile and cry and make some very loud noise. But ultimately it is about enjoying what has undoubtedly been fourteen days of thrilling football.
"I have loved this tournament," said the 12-year old Zenani, granddaughter of Nelson Mandela's youngest daughter Zindzi. "It has been so much fun and Bafana Bafana has been playing like ‘wow'!"
Next year Zenani is confident that the home side will win the 2010 FIFA World Cup but tonight she hopes that the trophy she takes on to the pitch will go to the USA. "Because the USA rocks, like South Africa! And Brazil beat us, so I won't be sad if the USA beats them."
As the stadium went dark, and the vuvuzelas went quiet, the melodic sounds of Africa filled the air. The voices of 150 choir members and the beats of 150 drummers bid the fans and the watching world goodbye. But for the nation and the continent this is really just the beginning. In less than a year's time it will welcomes 32 teams back for the big one, the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the celebrations, and the drama begin, once again.