Oranje juice with Paella

When I was in primary school, there was a creative writing competition organised internationally by FIFA for children aged 12 years and below. In the competition, participants were supposed to submit a creative writing piece, in any language they are comfortable with about the importance of world peace and how sports can help to promote it. Participants were also required to write why he/she should be the ambassador to their countries at that year’s world cup. The winner from each country would be given a full flight+accomodation+1 adult to accompany him/her to the world cup venue and gets to walk out into the turf hand in hand with a player before the match begins.

My English teacher, Ms B, excitedly cut out that competition form from Straits Times and asked if I would like to take part. She would help me edit it and even submit it for me. I really loved her composition classes back then and when she asked me of all people, I was too excited and come on, who would give away a chance of being one of those world cup kids walking out into the turf with the players? I fantasized walking hand in hand with Juergen Klinsmann or Maradona. Or even Ruud Gullit and his then reggae hairdo.

I wrote a few pieces and Ms B chose the one she thought would be ok to submit. As there were no other specifics in the contest instructions, we thought that writing it nicely on A4 piece of paper and submitting it would be sufficient. And so we did.

A month later, the results were announced in the then kid’s news program Newswatch. All the entries (and there were over a thousand entries !) were placed in some huge bins and the host of the show gave a debrief about it before announcing the winner. That was when my heart sank to the deepest low. All the other entries were so colourful and not just an essay! Some were in collage form, some were in frames, some were in handmade news report template … All so colourful and striking, that I was so sure my essay in that A4 sized white paper was sitting in one corner unnoticed.

The winner was announced and it was a boy from one of the mission primary school. You see, I remember every detail of something which is of impact to me in a photographic sort of way and that boy who won, was chubby and bespectacled and the little sore loser in the child in me was furious at him, whose entry was in a beautiful collage form of all his favorite players from the different teams on Styrofoam board and his essay was beautifully written in the middle. I was also furious at Ms B, for not advising me properly on what I could do in the competition. I went to sleep that night in tears.

I was a sore loser alright. Yesterday I got reminded on my ‘sore loser episode’ when watching the Dutch played Spain in the Finals. The Dutch played a dirty game with obnoxious tackles that sent the referee on a yellow card frenzy as though he was playing uno on the pitch. And when the goal was scored they cried foul, admittedly the goal was quite controversial with the offside claim, but not as controversial as Maradona’s hand of God so seriously, I think the Dutch overreacted.

In all, I am happy with this year’s world cup. Many underdogs triumphed. I got to see Maradona as a coach. The Germany team, which no one thought could go beyond their first few matches came in 3rd, and my new favorite, this new gem in the form of Thomas Mueller whom 8 weeks ago were not even in the first line up, won the top scorer award and also best young player of the tournament.

So till Brazil in four years time. And hopefully a new Argentinian team to give them hope for the future sans the comical Maradona, Mesut Ozil-Muller-Khedira-Boateng to lead Germany into bringing the Cup back to Berlin yet again, an Asian team in the finals, maybe Japan or South Korea and beautiful capoeira dancing to the theme song.

FIFA’s best young player of the tournament, Thomas Mueller, 20 years old and his wife Lisa Trede also 20 years old. Mueller also won the top scorer award for this tournament and is a figure to watch in Brazil, in 4 years time

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