So today I received a message that the BBC World report How to Become President, that I made last year, is available online. It brings back good memories. Because thanks to the Fifa World Cup in South Africa, 2010 is a year to remember, in many ways.
Not the least because it was the year the Dutch team would finally win that long awaited world title. At least that’s what it looked like until Spain’s Andres Iniesta blew ‘our’ dream to pieces in the dying seconds of that dreadful final in Soccer Stadium, Jo’burg. Well, I guess that after 1974 and 1978, it was well time for my generation to have its own World Cup finals trauma.
But it could not cast a shadow over the year past for too long. You see, I was there in South Africa, at the first World Cup football on African soil. Working for lokaalmondiaal at the time meant it had been a rather busy year. As part of the Twenty Ten project my colleague Thomas Hurkxkens and I followed three African journalists on their own road to 2010, the result of which can be seen in the documentary Through Our Own Eyes (Dutch subtitles).
Also memorable were the two reports we made for BBC World. A chance for me to work with Dutch documentary maker Peter Tetteroo. Together we travelled to Liberia in pursuit of football legend George Weah. The 1995 World Player of the year has now turned to politics and runs for president. Unfortunately he was nowhere to be found.
Instead we talked to his supporters and critics and spent some time with a group of former child soldiers. Their stories of the gruesome acts they performed during the civil war were haunting. To them George Weah is nothing less then a god and an example of what a poor boy can achieve. Weah climbed from the gutter to the top of the world.
We finally caught up with Weah himself in Ghana, where, after a lot of patience, we were finally able to interview him at his home in Accra, only hours before our departure to Amsterdam. (How shabby our worn-down Ghanaian taxi looked on the ramp next to Weah’s Hummer, Porsche and Mercedes SLK.)
He turned out to be a very pleasant conversationalist, not too shy to face critical questions. Finally, boys being boys, I could not resist taking an AC Milan t-shirt out of my camera bag and having it signed by ‘Mr. George’. It’s now hanging in a frame on the wall at the lokaalmondiaal office in the Netherlands.