Post-World Cup blues hit SA

Irritable? Sad? Feeling empty? It could be post-World Cup withdrawal.

The post-mortem on South Africa’s World Cup drew a near perfect score but locals are now grappling with one question after a month of celebration and rare unity: How are you going to get your life back?

With a touch of the blues, say experts.

“This World Cup has provided us with a fantastic natural high,” said Cape Town psychologist Helgo Schomer.

“Now we have to replace it because within 31 days and a few games you get hooked.”

See our gallery of images from the World Cup closing ceremony

South Africans lapped up the chance to welcome the world and celebrate without the constant shadow of apartheid’s ills, in a outpouring of national pride and unity little seen since democratic elections in 1994.

All the country’s social barriers had come down during the month-long tournament, which is not often seen, said Schomer.

“We are a social animal. We need to admit that something like this in a group in a stadium with 60 000-plus people cannot be replaced by anything else,” he said.

Happy people
“Humans among humans are the most happy people around. We forget about our worries. Nothing like a World Cup event alleviates worry about the mundane.”

The championship created a vacuum of euphoria with a bump to be expected, said Charl Davids of the psychology department at the University of the Western Cape.

“It’s the sudden set-in of ‘OK, now things are back to normal’, and I think that is the kind of blues and almost depressed feeling that a lot of people have.”

As reality crept in, the hype of the mega-event was suddenly gone, once the 64 matches had finished after years of build-up.

The freedom of opining on the game’s minutiae by instant football experts — which dominated conversations for a month, might also have evaporated.

“It’s quite normal after a big event,” said Davids.

“Suddenly today that is gone because now if you talk about something you need to know what you’re talking about.”

South Africans have been urged to harness the current spirit amid hopes that the benchmark set by staging the world’s most-watched sporting event will turn to huge challenges of poverty, crime and divisions.

For those itching for a vuvuzela or remote control, Schomer said some could face withdrawal symptoms of irritability, frustration and even more swearing.

“There’s a touch of melancholy about it’s over, it’s done,” he said.

But the blues will pass, he said, calling on people to replace the natural high.

“We level out. It takes a bit of time. Normally it takes about a seven-day period on average, but that varies from person to person.”

Some fans were already feeling the blues before the last whistle on Sunday.

“I’ve already started suffering from post-World Cup depression,” said Melanie George queuing for the Cape Town fan park eight hours ahead the final on Sunday.

“It’s like amazing … all the people that are here and everyone said South Africa couldn’t do it and we really showed them.”

And next? “Sulk. Save for 2014.”

Lessons learned
Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma said on Monday the expertise gained by hosting the tournament would be used to improve delivery by government.

“South Africa has gained a lot from this World Cup. As government, working with the private sector in South Africa and abroad, we have gained considerable project management expertise,” Zuma told journalists at a post-World Cup briefing at the Sandton Convention Centre.

“This ability will enable us to deal with the ongoing priorities of creating jobs, improving education and providing health services.”

In response to criticism that the government had spent millions on building stadiums while neglecting the plight of the homeless and the poor, Zuma said this had not undermined their ability to deliver.

“… government did not place itself in the position to choose between pressing socioeconomic priorities and a successful Fifa World Cup.

“The World Cup did not compromise the focus or the funding that we have maintained since 1994 on improving health, safety, education, and economic well-being of our people,” he said.

Zuma was confident that the investment made by the country would increase tourism, trade and investment and would ultimately help the government address the many difficulties the country faced.

He singled out the security sector when thanking those who made the event a success, saying that they proved that the country “meant business” in maintaining law and order.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, flanking Zuma, said the experience gained by the security sector during the tournament would be integrated into their day-to-day functioning.

“Yes, indeed these lessons will not be lost to government in terms of how we work going forward,” Motlanthe said, noting the speed and efficiency with which the dedicated World Cup courts processed cases.

Zuma said government was working on a programme to thank citizens for this and “harness the spirit of a common nationhood and social cohesion”.

“We particularly commend South Africans for embracing each other, making the tournament a powerful nation-building tool,” he said.

He urged South Africans to now turn their support to the Springboks in the Tri-Nations series.

“As we draw the curtain on the 2010 Fifa World Cup, we now turn our focus to the fortunes of our Springbok rugby team in the Tri-Nations series.

“Therefore, do not stack away those rainbow nation flags just yet. National duty still calls.” – Sapa, AFP

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