Depending on whom you ask the response to the statement “After the ball…..” can vary a lot. For debutantes who have been fundraising for a year it can be both a relief and a let-down. “Now that it’s all over, I can sleep late, laze about, spend my money instead of having to save it and so on.” The deb’s ball is the highlight of the whole campaign and the winner feels like the million dollars they haven’t quite managed to raise.
The matric dance is also a ball, even though it’s not called that. The money spent on dresses, on the mode of transport, the after party etc can run into thousands and could almost bankrupt a family long enough to prepare for the wedding a few years hence.
So clearly the thought “after the ball……..” while it can obviously be applied to the aftermath of the World Soccer cup is by no means exclusive to that event which, by the time this article reaches you the readers, is either well under way or already over.
The words “After the ball is over,” are the first line of one of those silly songs people loved to sing when community singing was still in vogue.
“After the ball was over, she took out her glass eye, put her false teeth in water, shook from her head the dye. Kicked her false leg in the corner took off her false nails and all, and what was left went to bye-byes, after the ball.”
Can that kind of sentiment be applied to the soccer cup too? Were we as hosts putting on a false appearance for the occasion and will we need to strip it all off later, revealing a somewhat less spectacular, more ordinary people then we presented to our visitors? It is quite likely and quite natural that many of us would have put up a good show to impress the visitors. It would be a wonderful contribution to our society if the good traits that were displayed could remain. “Was I more hospitable, more friendly, more helpful, more honest than I usually am?”are questions that can be used in a communal examination of conscience. “Did I cheat, abuse people or substances, overindulge?” And having examined our communal conscience we could make a firm purpose of amendment and resolve to work at being the achievers we could be.
Those are thoughts more or less on a personal level but on a wider social level too what benefits or losses will we experience? One “good news” story heard on radio was of a school whose sportsfields were to be used for park-and-ride purposes. Lights were installed for additional security but the school will benefit in that floodlights will make their sportsfield a useful resource for the local community. Some schools and churches may have started holiday clubs. Citizens may have developed their own entrepreneurial spirit and provided various forms of service. On a negative note too of course traffickers of people and substances will have worked hard to exercise their well-oiled entrepreneurial spirits while community members and law-enforcers will have tried to combat any and all forms of illegal and harmful activities. It is to be hoped that something like the Civil Defence units of former times or Police Forums will also have utilized the community in their none too easy task of keeping us and our children safe. Community safety is not only the responsibility of the different government agencies but every citizen’s responsibility too.
Materially and financially will South African have benefited from the experience? The number of visitors, the money they are willing to spend and the goods and services we had to offer will influence that greatly. But it is not only visitors who spend money. The whole event is likely to have cost us locals an arm and a leg too. Bafana shirts and other paraphernalia for a largish family have cost far too much. Costs of tickets, entertainment at fan parks and at private parties don’t come cheap and, as they continue, need also not be excessive if we employ a reasonable attitude. Family get-togethers to watch games without excessive drinking should be encouraged for all our sakes.
Structurally the country has gained beautiful stadiums which should not be allowed to become white elephants but be used and made available for use by the community. There will be job losses when all the projects are finished but maintaining the stadiums and upkeep of the many roads that have been upgraded must be done.
If we become wellness enthusiasts because of the example of our soccer heroes it will be a big bonus.
If we have learned about other cultures from our visitors, picked up a few words in other languages, we will have grown.
Let’s hope that after the ball when things do return to normal we will at least all be able to say, “We had a ball and have learned and grown.”
Let’s hope that after the ball we will not need to put aside any false pretences and maybe again become demotivated and the unmotivated slobs we were.
Let’s hope that we made new friends and no enemies.
Let’s hope we can say thank God that we and our children are safe and there were no major disasters.
Let’s hope that we can thank too our lawenforcers, protectors and all those who worked for the success of the event.
For all that to happen our attitude will be a major factor; our attitude during the weeks of the World Cup and beyond; the feelings we had and the proudly South African spirit we shared.