Saturday, July 30, 2011

Not so proudly South African

The problem with trying to watch any rugby in this country is that the sport is not readily available on a private level. It is certainly not to be seen on local or any commercial TV providers. If you want to avoid the smelly after-taste of pub patrons, you can stream most games in the comfort of your own home... sort of... but usually through back-end online distributors and at very unhandy low-res. So we usually go to sports pubs.

The pubs themselves aren't necessarily the problem. They're as grimy, greasy and gritty as can be expected. This can be tolerated on most occasions. What bothers me more is that other South Africans frequent these places too. I don't mind meeting up with SAffers, as long as they are my friends. My friends are cool; these are people I want to see. But there's always that element of patriotic supporters who go to games with the apparent end goal of actually accruing new friends. Yuck. These are the ones who also assume that because we're shouting for the same team, in the same location, we should therefore be chums for life. More often than not, they are wrong.

When we first arrived in The Netherlands, I was amazed to see that there were so many young South African girls - dotted all over the country, and gathering in noticeably wild packs for any rugby game. They are predominantly Afrikaans, so the language is an easy transfer*, they are cheap labour (aaaah, the subjugation of Africa lives on) and they are out of their parents' control for the first time in their lives.

When they amass in the pubs, it's never pretty. It's usually downright embarrassing.

They always travel in packs of 10 or more. They are usually very, obnoxiously drunk - or get to this stage very quickly. They make a sport of screaming often, and are as shrill as humanly possible, any time anything representing their chosen team is shown. This includes: the players, the coaches, the mascot, the bench, supporters, team shirts or even just the associated colour. Blue Bulletijes are particularly fond of this tactic. They seldom actually watch the game, choosing instead to scream in each other's faces through the full 90 minutes. And after the game, they will try to strike up conversation with anyone wearing a shirt that might vaguely be construed as South African.

For this reason, I've become hesitant to wear my cute little rugby top to international games. Dear god, those kids might try to communicate with me. Worse yet, people might think I'm one of them! I cannot be having with that. I can be patriotic incognito, right?

* I have to admit to a stage when I contemplated similar employment when I first arrived in the UK. It was a desperate and short-lived fragment of an idea. A bolus of bile gathers in the back of my throat at the very recollection.

No comments: