Well, in a sad remembrance of Nelson Mandela who died this week at the age of 95, I will give you my thoughts on him as it came to sport. If anything Mr. Mandela brought the country together after becoming the first black president of South Africa in 1994. That was four years after leaving prison, as he refused the apartheid system that was in place in the country for 46 years. Instead of vengeance, he worked with the same people who were his enemies to bring the country together.
South Africa then won the rights to hold the Rugby Union World Cup in 1995. He used his influence to bring a sport that was considered for white afrikaans in the country and brought the whole country together to support the team. I remember this tournament because nobody thought anyone would beat New Zealand who were the odds on favorite to win.( They had defeated teams by 20 points or more) Mandela made sure to where the Springbok jersey and with his support he brought a racially divided South Africa together as they went on to win the tournament defeating New Zealand 15-12 in the final. South Africa’s star of that tournament Francois Pienaar released this statement. Nelson Mandela was the most extraordinary and incredible human being, not only because he united his country when such a task seemed impossible but also because, through his unique humanity, he inspired hundreds of millions of people across the globe. “I will always be profoundly grateful for the personal role Nelson Mandela has played in my life, as my President and my example.”
After the rugby world cup, he played a role in transforming sports in South Africa to be racially diverse and inclusive to all. His influence was on hand as the country won soccer’s Africa Nations Cup then the right to hold soccer’s (football) 2010 FIFA World Cup. He used sport to unify a nation and improve the international image of the country. Mandela’s view of sport has never seemed more fitting,
“Sport has the power to change the world…it has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.”
Catching up with things in the soccer (football) world. The world cup draws was announced on Friday.
Brazil, Mexico, Cameroon, Croatia
Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia
Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan
Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy
Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras
Argentina, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Iran, Nigeria
Germany, Portugal, Ghana, United States
Belgium, Algeria, Russia, South Korea
The toughest group, or the group of death, may be group G where the United States lie. Number one former footballer of the year Cristiano Ronaldo plays for Portugal. Former world Cup champions Germany are also in that group. Also Ghana who are always tough to play against and have surprised many including the past. U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann had this to say on the tough group. “I’m not worried at all. I’ll just take it the way it is and we’re going to prepare the best way and we’re going to be well prepared for the World Cup. We’ll build up confidence and believe that we can get good results to get into the next round. We’ll do our homework on Portugal, Germany and Ghana. We’re excited about this, big time. That’s where you want to be in a World Cup. It’s a difficult draw but we’ll find a way to go through it.” Forward Eddie Johnson looked at it the same way, when they say the Group of Death; we have to look at ourselves, as well. We’re the U.S. National Team and if it’s considered the Group of Death [because we are a part of it], it shows how far the country has come and how big football is in America. We have a lot of experience within our team with a lot of players who have proven they can play in the big leagues in Europe and can play against these players who will represent their countries. We have an unbelievable coaching staff, and I can assure you that when it comes time for the coach to pick the team, it’s going to be a good team that goes to Brazil.
In Major League Soccer, Sporting Kansas City are the new 2013 champions of MLS as they defeated Real Salt Lake Saturday in the MLS Cup. It took penalties to decide the winner as the two teams were tied at the end of play and extra time. Real Salt Lake scored first in the match with a goal in the 52 minute of play by Alvaro Saborio making it 1-0. But that score was not to last as Sporting KC came back with a goal in the 76th minute by Aurélien Collin. Real Salt Lake had a chance to end the shootout with their eighth shot of the night, but the 36-year-old Jimmy Nielsen took out the shot by Real Salt Lake midfielder Sebastian Velasquez. Sporting K.C defender Aurelien Collin followed with a goal on Sporting K.C.’s ninth shot, and Real Salt Lake backup defender Lovel Palmer blasted his ensuing shot off the crossbar to hand Sporting K.C. the title. This is their second MLS Cup and the fifth team to win multiple titles in MLS.