A World Cup memory and a Reminder to Believe

As I watch the CONCACAF Gold Cup, (soccer tournament) I recall the magic of last June. I recall the world coming together to watch soccer, recall witnessing South Africa continue to heal through sports, and I recall believing I’d see USA play a World Cup match.

less than a week

When my tour through Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and South Africa ended I decided to stay behind. The World Cup was just six days away and I wanted to see USA play. I still needed hotel reservations, tickets, transportation to the match, but truthfully, I wasn’t worried. I believed.

As it turned out, accommodations were fairly reasonable when you did get creative, but the ticket. The ticket became the challenge.

Naysayers told me, oh “you’ll never get a ticket to USA  vs England.” I disagreed. The sold out match played between the two biggest traveling fan bases to South Africa played in one of the smaller stadiums would prove difficult -yes, but impossible – no.

With some system of ticket ownership checking implemented (or rumored) by FIFA to discourage scalping, my best hope seemed through a cancellation. Apparently, people who weren’t making the long haul could cancel their tickets.

the screen eventually show a ticket...but that didn't guarantee anything

One morning, I headed to the FIFA ticket offices in Cape Town. I lined up with fellow fans and waited. And waited. Hours passed.

Eventually I made my way to the ticket window and asked for England vs USA. Nothing. Did I give up? No, I still waited.

I learned I needed to watch a screen to see what type of seats were available to which matches. It updated every 3-5 minutes and I watched it like a hawk.  For an hour nothing changed.

Then suddenly a blue seat, tier 1 (seemingly) became available. I became so excited, I dropped my credit card instantly saying I want ticket(s).

The attendant checked and still nothing was available. What? Shocked, ‘it has a blue light, it’s on the board, you told me that meant a ticket was available?” I continued in a slightly elevated tone and pointed “It’s there.”


She told me, “I know, but there is still no ticket.” I watched the screen, it remained on the board after the next refresh. She tried again. System crash. What the…

Five minutes. Then five more. I asked again, and reluctantly she checked again. Suddenly, she had a ticket. I handed her my credit card, “please charge it.” Those seconds when processing felt like minutes, if not hours. I was competing with all the other ticket offices, the internet, the world basically and I won. I scored.

Suddenly, her initial unpleasant demeanor (not unwarranted) turned to a smile. She definitely doubted my chances at first, but now she saw my happiness and told me to enjoy the match. I would.

Now, I needed passage to Rustenberg.

From Cape Town I flew to J’berg, (Mango offered reasonable fares) and headed back to Pretoria. I had a ticket, but still needed a ride. Rustenberg was a two hour drive at best.

my seat.

Almost instantly after I checked into my hostel my ride situation rectified.  I met fans from around the globe; Argentina, New Zealand, Uruguay, Australia, Germany, and I also met plenty of American soccer fans. Yes, fellow fans of the Stars and Stripes who were going to the game. I asked around and found my ride. Mission accomplished. Sometimes, I love hostels.

The game itself proved a memorable experience. The pregame buzz wore off quickly when England scored in the 4th minute, but I jumped for joy when we equalized to capture a point with a draw. In the end, the memory of day will remain with me, but more importantly, so will the lesson learned.

the game played with a ring of St George Flags around the Stadium.

matched ended in a draw 1-1

I found accommodations, scored a ticket, and secured a ride. I made the world cup match I wanted to see. Looking back it all seemed easy, but it was because I believed. Sure, I had moments of doubt, but largely I kept my course and believed I’d attend the match the entire time.  I did.

At times, I wish I played all my life with the same determination and attitude. Oh wait, I can. And watching soccer in the Gold Cup is reminding of just that.

stay adventurous,


Tip: Always believe. As I watched a continent believing in its ability to host the world, I believed I would secure a ticket, passage to Rustenburg, and see England vs USA. Everything worked out, and largely because I believed it would. Always remember, good fortune favors the prepared mind.

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  • kevin teevan

    Sounds like a good time, and a more important lesson. Maybe we need to reinforce that message with Team USA before the next cup in Brazil…

    • http://www.stayadventurous.com Craig Zabransky

      Thanks Kevin, we might not to reinforce that message during the current Gold Cup. And as for Brazil, perhaps you should join me and reinforce it personally in South America in 2014.

      stay adventurous, Craig

  • Mike

    Don’t tell me you took the St. George’s banners pic from your seat!

    • http://www.stayadventurous.com Craig Zabransky

      Mike, yes I did with a tiny point and shoot I had in my pocket (because I carried my Vuvuzela). Believe mate.

      stay adventurous, Craig

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