Nate's Cape Town Capers – a blog from S. Africa

By Nate Juergens

Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Soccer is in the airSoccer is in the air here in South Africa, with the biggest sports tournament in the world arriving in about four months. I watch soccer all the time, there are soccer ads and billboards, and we play soccer all the time. Everyday at maybe three o’clock, kids go down to the UCT turf field, where there is a relatively new small sided, net enclosed, mini field. It is the greatest thing ever, with lines, mini goals, and even penalty kick spots. We play 4 vs. 4, winner stays, first goal wins. There are usually about 4 or 5 teams down there at a time, and it is relatively competitive. We always bring an American squad down there, and play simple, aggressive, powerful American soccer, which is effective, even if it is not as pretty as some of the South Africans we play. I am just amazed at all the spontaneous soccer going on everywhere here, it is very refreshing. In the US playing a good game of soccer takes organizing and tracking down enough people. Here there are enough people for small-sided tournaments, everyday of the week for hours on end. Now I understand why the rest of the world is so much better than us at soccer. All of the Americans here seem to be soccer fans or players also, probably because the World Cup happens to be occurring at the end of the semester. That’s about all I have to add for now; I love soccer and so does everyone here, its great. Nate, over and out.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Twins Opening Day: South Africa

The date was April 12, 2010 and I had just gotten home from a hard day, studying abroad in South Africa. I started off the evening with a nice nap until approximately 20:00 Cape Town time (that’s 8:00 PM for all you Americans). I woke up, whipped up some dinner, and then promptly ate said dinner. It was delicious so I ate a heaping bowl, which of course needed to be followed by a lengthy television watching session, while I digested. I began by watching a soccer match or two, which is all nearly all we watch here, in the rest of the world.

By the time I was done watching it was getting pretty late, and I was thinking about finding my way to my mattress. But I performed the standard last-flick-through-the-channels-routine, and to my pleasure, I found a channel, called ESPN no less, playing the Minnesota Twins game, live, in a brand new stadium (dayenu). I tuned in when it was already 4-1 Twins, and Pavano was still pitching. I also have approximately seven, at least tangential, Boston Red Sox fans in my house (two from Boston, three from the Northeast, and two Boston College students) versus the two Minnesotans in the house. There were only two Red Sox fans awake, but I was the sole Twins fan left, so I felt the pressure none-the-less. I was making small talk with them, describing how the Red Sox are just the Yankees these days, in slightly different uniforms, and how the Twins have a, “nearly 100% chance of winning the World Series, this year, in 2010.”

We continued to watch, and my spirits continued to rise, as Kubel hit a shot into the right field stands, and the Nathan-less Twins still recorded a save (congratulations Jon Rauch). The Twins got the win, on international TV, and I was in a room with some Red Sox fans, so clearly I was in high spirits. And instantly I thought, thank goodness we put our nose to grindstone, tightened our belt buckles, and purchased this new stadium for the Pohlads and the Minnesota Twins organization. After all the years of having to sit through the East coast biased media playing Yankees-Red Sox games at every opportunity, maybe we can squeak in there, as a legitimately high profile team in the nation’s eyes. It would be well-deserved and about time, with our two home-grown former MVP’s, our batting champions, our Cy Young award winners (I suppose Santana is an ex-Twin, but the point still stands), and our repeated play-off appearances. That’s what I was thinking as I watched us win our first game in Target Field, all the way from Cape Town.

Of course, maybe they were only playing the game because Boston was playing in it, and it was just a lucky coincidence that it was the Twin’s opener in their new ballpark. I wouldn’t put it past those devious connivers, out in Bristol.

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