My World Cup goal

July 6, 2010

Miles Himmel, incoming Bradley freshman majoring in sports communication, had the rare opportunity to experience the 2010 World Cup in person this summer.  Below, he recounts his incredible South African adventure.

The World Cup is unlike any other event in the world.  As far as global sports bonanzas go, the Olympics would be the closest comparison, but even with multiple events and hundreds of participating countries, they don’t inspire nearly the amount of passion that World Cup competition generates every four years.  My goal to see the World Cup in person was four years in the making and involved both a tragedy and a fortuitous friendship.  When my family’s San Diego home was destroyed by wildfires, we moved to a new neighborhood where I became fast friends with a South African family who jumped at the chance to help me achieve my dream of traveling to the 2010 World Cup.

Of the four matches I attended, the U.S.A. vs. England game was by far the most memorable.  I swelled with pride as fans all around me donned red, white, and blue and belted out spirited renditions of our national anthem.  Two particularly fervid fans even dressed up as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  The only negative aspect of the evening – an unwelcome shower courtesy of boisterous English fans – was more than made up for by their goalie’s mishap later in the game that scored underdog U.S.A. an unexpected 1-1 draw with its English foe.

I was also on scene for the France/Uruguay, Netherlands/Denmark, and Chile/Honduras matchups.  All were held in beautiful stadiums, and I had the opportunity to see Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, where the final will be held on July 11.

In the end, my World Cup journey grew into a multifaceted tourist adventure.  From petting cheetahs in Cape Town to an emotional pilgrimage to the island where Nelson Mandela was held during South Africa’s painful apartheid to getting up close and personal -- maybe a little too close -- with a wild elephant, I spent 16 days experiencing people, places, and creatures that will impact me for a lifetime.  Now that my four-year dream has come true, I’m ready for my next big adventure: four years at Bradley University.  See you in Peoria this fall!