By Courtney Kealy reporting from Johannesburg
For me it isn't how you play the game, but where the games are played. In 1998, I watched my first World Cup on Garvaghy Road in Northern Ireland with the Catholic residents and local photographers. The riots down the street --at the standoff with the Protestant Orangemen who wanted to march through the Catholic's neighborhood --stood still through match time- it seemed even the rioters took time out for the "footie". After every game's end, I would gather up my gear (I was a photographer then) and trudge to the barricaded side of Drumcree Church and the Molotov cocktails would start flying again. They may have hated each other, but they were united on one thing; they hated France winning the World Cup that year just as much. Such is the odd alliances forged during the most watched event on the planet, The World Cup. I won't kid you, I am no soccer fanatic. I forget the rules but I never forget the teams and their age old grudges.
South Africa's troubles served as a backdrop to my young dreams of becoming a journalist. Growing up with brothers, the sound of sporting matches served as my background soundtrack that still feels the most like home wherever I may be at the time.
This year, here I stood in a Soweto fan park as if transported. The townships looked déjà vu familiar after all my young years studying photos of apartheid. The opening match was all about Bafana Bafana, the boys the boys as South Africa's team is called. When they scored the first goal of the World Cup the crowd seemed to levitate, vuvuzelas's waving, dust kicking up clouds as they jumped up and down in joy.
It was one singular unifying moment of pride and joy in South Africa's history after so much tragedy and pain and continuing corruption and societal ills. Its didn't last much longer. By Wednesday - on the 34th year since the Soweto Uprising-South Africa suffered a devastating defeat to Uruguay and the vuvuzelas went quiet and the fans went grim. The World Cup now soon shifts to its international stars and well known high ranked teams. Whether South Africa can keep the spark alive in their World Cup remains to be seen in the weeks to come.
As part of her World Cup coverage for FOX News Radio, Courtney Kealy has covered a variety of angles of the biggest event in what's known as "The World's Game."
This week, more than just the World Cup was center-stage for South Africans, as the country celebrated Youth Day on Wednesday...
The U.S. team has picked up points in each of their first 2 games, tying 8th-ranked England in the opener before picking up a tie against Slovenia in dramatic fashion. Prior to the second game, a pro-U.S. crowd filed into Johannesburg's Ellis Park Stadium...