It’s the World Cup Final on Sunday, but I’m not thinking about that. I’m thinking about the vast, pitiless void that’s waiting immediately after the final whistle.
I can’t believe it’s almost over. Never mind goal-line technology, top of Sepp Blatter’s priority list should be extending the World Cup by at least a fortnight, especially given how much effort I put into watching the thing.
Not even Germany coach Joachim Löw prepared for this tournament as meticulously as I did. I began the accumulation of brownie points that could later be converted into precious match-watching minutes months ago.
“Yes, of course you can watch Britain’s Got Talent, darling. I’ll just be taking out the recycling.” It was a high price to pay, but letting my wife Lisa enjoy the entire series of Gok’s Fashion Fix bought me enough points to justify watching most of the first round.
There were tense negotiations, culminating in a lunchtime summit meeting. Concessions were made, but overall I was pleased with the final settlement. At last, I could get down to the planning stage proper.
“What is it about the World Cup?” said Lisa as she watched me filling in various charts and spreadsheets mapping out where I’d watch each game and with whom. “You’ve even put stuff on the calendar. You never do that. Stop it. I’m having lunch with Melissa on the 15th but there’s no room to write it in because apparently New Zealand v Slovakia is now something that needs to go on our calendar.
“If only you could put this kind of energy into doing something useful.”
She’s right, sadly. In the usual run of things I frequently need help finding my own shoes. Yet when it comes to the World Cup I’m suddenly imbued with sort of drive normally associated with the CEO of a major corporation.
That’s the thing with football. It’s ultimately meaningless, but it inspires such passion (unless you play for France perhaps).
And part of what makes the World Cup so special is knowing that millions of other people are watching and feeling just as passionately as you do about it (in the case of a Dutch fan I met once who’d spray-painted his dog orange, even more so).
When Uruguay’s Luis Suarez handled the ball on the line and cheated Ghana out of a place in the semi-final I knew my outrage at the sheer injustice, the sheer unacceptable wrongness of it, would be shared in bars, town squares and living rooms across the world.
Similarly, when South Africa’s Siphiwe Tshabalala smashed the opening goal of the tournament into the top corner of the net, I knew there’d be an outpouring of joy from Soweto to Stockholm.
Trouble is, all that energy doesn’t really go anywhere. The tournament ends and we go back to wandering listlessly through life ’til the next one starts – well, I do, anyway. But like Lisa says, what if we could harness all that energy and channel it into something useful.
Fact is, we do have a genuine opportunity to ensure that all of the hope, joy and passion of this competition does go somewhere, and leaves an incredible legacy for the children of Africa and far beyond.
The 1GOAL campaign wants to give every child the chance of an education and the chance of a future. That would be something to celebrate.
And signing up couldn’t be easier. Considerably easier than facing the prospect of life after Sunday’s final, that’s for sure.