From Bussage to Brazil: Former SNJ reporter and ex-Shortwood United player James Davis is travelling around-the-world and is sending his thoughts on the World Cup.
WHEN it was announced that the World Cup would be heading to Brazil back in 2007, I joined all the other self-confessed football addicts who said they would be there.
Little did I know that I would actually follow through with that hastily made vow. But here I am, one of the fortunate few that will have a front row seat as the competition kicks--off.
The wait is almost over - all eyes are on Brazil as the world's biggest football fiesta returns to its spiritual home.
Over the next 32 days supporters across the globe will be gripped as the drama unfolds and the most important questions in the beautiful game are answered.
Can Brazil win over an unconvinced public with victory? Which giant of the game will tumble early? And with expectations at an all time low, can a youthful Three Lions team surprise a few people and get out of their group, or dare we dream…win a penalty shootout?
Organisers would love to say the stadiums are totally finished, the tickets are all sold, and the Brazilian public is pumped - but at the moment none of these things are entirely true.
Here in Porto Alegre, which hosts its first game on Sunday, there is still a calmness on the ground. Banners and balloons are beginning to go up in shops, the famous green and gold jerseys are being sold on the streets and international fans are starting to filter in.
Walking past the huge Fan Fest, to which the opening match will be beamed on Thursday, I spotted police and volunteers being briefed, technical staff in suits busily running around clutching cables and laptops, and a military helicopter circling above. There is noticeable police presence across the city - on corners, on motorbikes and on horseback.
And at the stadium, which does appear ready, workmen were applying last minute touches, such as checking turnstiles and crucially, unloading stack after stack of canned lager.
The event has its detractors and the protestors have many valid points. But this is Brazil, where football is all, and if the hosts do well, or go all the way as many predict, it will require some effort to hold back the celebrations.
So bring on the outrageous goals, the blood and sweat, the joy and tears. We're ready Brazil.