methow grist 2011-2014 archive


Have You Heard?
Chipolopolo Team wins African Cup of Nations

(Jerry Merz is a Methow Valley resident who has been doing charitable work in Zambia for the past two years. This was taken from his blog at

The international win was absolutely HUGE in Zambia.

After qualifying for the African Cup of Nations (football/soccer), Zambia wasn't really expected to go all that far. They made it through the qualifying rounds of the tournament and in to the semifinal. A few games ago we played Sudan, and were really outplayed, but squeaked out a win. That was nice, but then we had to play Ghana, one of the tournament favorites. Again, we were outplayed, but managed a 1-0 win to make it to the finals and Ivory Coast . . . the pre-tournament favorite.

All of the announcers were picking Ivory Coast, but were very "sweet" as to Zambia's accomplishment up to this point. It was a great game. This time Zambia did NOT get outplayed. It was a nail-biter for the whole 90 minutes of regulation and ended in a 0 - 0 tie. Next, a 30-minute tie breaker game (two fifteen minute halves). Again, no score. So, it goes to a shoot out against the goal keepers. Five shots for each team, most goals wins.

Both teams made all five shots. Now, sudden death. The teams use whoever hasn't had a shot yet. First team to make when the other team misses, wins. Ivory Coast MISSED their seventh try! Everybody went nuts . . . until . . . Zambia also missed. Then Ivory Coast missed their eighth try. Zambia drilled it and won the cup.

I looked at MSNBC News and the story didn't even merit a headline. Yes, a former Olympic swimmer proposing on the medal stand was a big story, but not this huge story that has overwhelmed the continent of Africa. We went to bed at 2 a.m. and the streets were still going totally nuts . . . all over. Today, at every intersection people would break out in honking, yelling, blowing those crazy horns. Cars were dressed with the Zambian colors and flags flying from all over the place.

At lunch today, I was asking myself, "So these sports victories . . . are they really all that productive? Is it a positive thing, overall, to boast your superiority over another? Is this joy people are feeling based on anything that can be looked at in a positive way? It certainly is fun, but is it really all that healthy?"

In this case, my answer is YES. Many people in Africa feel like they are a lesser people. Most idolize America, yet it seems like an impossible dream to experience. They know that many parts of the world are more "developed", and it just isn't happening here.

Today, Zambians are very proud of their country. They have watched their team rise to the top of the African continent and they have taken the ride with them. Today, Zambians are not feeling like a downtrodden, forgotten people. I can't help but think that a little part of this feeling will stay with them. Actually, it is an essential step in changing from an AID focused economy to a productive, investment-worthy, job-creating society.

I have been living in this "downtrodden" environment without really realizing the weight of it . . . until today.




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