No one needs to point out the irony to me that we sent a team called ‘The All Whites’ to South Africa… especially given the turbulent history of that topic NZ has with the country in the early 80’s. Aside from this, which I just wanted to get out of the way first… don’t get me wrong here, but I’m not a Soccer fan… and not really much of a sports fan in general really, casual observer really.
However NZ was the rank rank rank outsiders in the countries that made it in (I think we’re like 81st or 82nd in World Rankings), and so there was no expectation for the team to win. And they didn’t. But they also didn’t lose any match they were in, instead managing to tie all 3 games they played and not making it through on clear points due to Italy’s unexpected defeat. As a country, many were happy to be in and playing that first game. If we drew or even scored 1 goal people would have been happy, and many even said as long as we lost by 1 or 2 points we’d still be happy to have been there. It’s nice to see positive support regardless of outcome by our nation… it’s not something I’m accustom to here.
You see, our main sport here of course is Rugby… our team for this sport is The All Blacks (thus why the Soccer team is the Whites), but they – for mostly as long as I can remember – get a hard time for every loss they’ve had. The pressure is always on, especially for their world cup (to be held here next year too)… but honestly, big or small game, if we lose – even if the team battles well and literally loses by a point or so, you’ll be hearing about it everywhere for weeks as if it was the end of the world.
There are justified reasons for complaining sometimes sure. NZ has a history of still being bitter about the “1981 Trevor Chappell Underarm bowling incident” in the cricket. At the time I’m sure this is all justified, but it’s almost 30 years later and it’s still often cited. Then there is the 1995 Rugby World cup loss for the AB’s, which sparked a conspiracy stories about food poisoning, listening devices, and car alarms going off waking up players the night before the match, all which personally I’d state as poor excuses for just not being happy at losing.
Ref mistakes too seem justified, regardless of if it was unfair or fair, but a team losing is treated as the worst offense ever. Personally I’ve never gotten this… there are 2 teams in the game. One wins, One loses… it’s just a fact. If you don’t win then you don’t win. You can get over this and hope next time you just win. Simple. So of course it was nice to see a change here… constant positive news stories about how well the team was doing, how they were being great role models as being a team to just take part… that it’s what matters the most.