Three of Tech’s own travel to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- For the 31 days spanning from June 11 through July 11, the entire world seemed to be at the mercy of the madness of the Fifa World Cup, swept up by the unity amongst and between different nations. Whether your loyalties stem from personal nationalities, or choosing to follow your favorite player (read: Landon Donovan) the climactic display of the best soccer in the world once every four years is enough to captivate even the most sporadic fans.

While televised World Cup matches undoubtedly guarantee a sufficient form of entertainment for an entire month of summer, the fact of the matter is that most of us will only ever see Landon Donovon, Christiano Ronaldo, David Villa and other superstars from afar – and on a high-def LCD at best.

To attend the World Cup in person is an opportunity that many only dream about, and not only because it’s fleeting with four years between consecutive events. Throw in the fact that the Cup takes place in a different country every year, and you’ll find that showing up for even a portion of the action gets a little bit harder. And, as an aside – the United States hosted in 1994, leaving little hope for any of us in the USA to catch a break and see the World Cup at home.

But for three student-athletes from Tech, the dream became a reality as they traveled to Capetown, South Africa for this year’s tournament. Women’s soccer senior Brooke Mayo, and men’s tennis

World Cup parade in Capetown, South Africa

players Lloyd Harris and Yianni Doropoulos watched 14 different teams compete in six matches and two warm up games over the course of their time spent in South Africa.

“I know that all three of us feel so lucky to be spending time in Capetown. It’s such a beautiful city with so much culture – it feels like a perfect venue for the World Cup,” said Harris.

Soccer City in Johannesburg, SA was their first stop, where they watched Netherlands shut out Denmark 2-0 and Argentina roll over South Korea, 4-1. The Netherlands advanced to the championship game, which was played in Soccer City on Sunday afternoon.

They also saw South Africa and Columbia compete in a warm-up game before moving on to Ellis Park in Johannesburg. 

There the three saw Spain, the eventual champion, defeat Honduras 2-0 and the US tie two-all with Slovenia.

“Watching the US soccer team was such a privilege,” Mayo said. “To see some of the best athletes in soccer in action and know that they come from the United States was one of the most moving feelings.”

In Nelspruit, Australia took a 2-1 win from Serbia and the Ivory Coast shut out North Korea. The three TTU athletes also took in a warm-up game between Portugal and Mozambique in the Wanderers Stadium in South Africa.

Mayo, Harris and Doropoulos have shared what are undeniably several once-in-a-lifetime experiences in Capetown that soccer fans across the nation would die for.  They’ll return to the states with a new outlook and appreciation for what is arguably the worldliest sport known to  man.

The balance between intensity and insanity that has defined the 2010 Cup held true throughout regulation in the final match between Netherlands and Spain, as the two contenders each looked to bring glory to their country for the first time. Several opportunities dangled in front of each team, but it was Espana’s Andres Iniesta who broke through the Dutch defense in the 116th minute to all-but secure the victory for Spain.

“It’s unreal that, during our time in Capetown, we were able to watch the two teams that played in the championship game,” said Doropoulos excitedly. “It’s definitely been an unforgettable experience.”

Editor's note: This story was written by Sports Information intern Kate Nicewicz, a former soccer player and - obviously -- a true soccer fan.