A decade ago, on June 11, the World Cup kicked off in South Africa.
The world looked so different then.
Having not been assigned to cover the Uruguay v France game at Cape Town Stadium, I had the chance to mix with the vrag mense who had invaded the Mother City for the next month.
There were thousands of fans in the streets, spilling out of the bars, restaurants and hotels. They were blowing their vuvuzelas and singing their team’s songs.
The only masks around were the ones the Mexicans wore - luchador masks worn by wrestlers like WWE’s Rey Mysterio.
And when Siphiwe Tshabalala scored his unforgettable opening goal of the tournament for Bafana Bafana against the Mexicans, you could feel it - the World Cup was here.
It was an amazing experience.
I got to see the biggest names in the game live - Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, Andres Iniesta, David Villa, Thomas Muller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mesut Ozil, Wayne Rooney to name a few.
But I regret not seeing Bafana in action at the tournament, including their massive win over France, even though that game meant nothing in the greater scheme of things.
Despite their 2-1 win over Les Bleus, their World Cup was pretty much over after they were ripped apart 3-0 by a Uruguay side led by Diego Forlan, Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez.
Goal difference cost them in the end and instead of building on that euphoric win in Bloemfontein, we haven’t seen much in the way of heroics from Bafana.
In fact, Bafana have gone backwards.
The question for Bafana then is: Waar is julle?
Since then, the national soccer team has never returned to the World Cup stage.
To get to Qatar 2022, they have to get past Ghana, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia in group play before facing one of the other 10 group winners in a two-legged playoff.
And having last achieved that in 2002 to get to Korea/ Japan, there is nothing to raise the belief that they will rise to the occasion.
Coach Molefi Ntseki and his current crop have to dig deep to find that gees to do something their predecessors have failed to do for 20 years.
There has to be more product up front from the current crop.
Last year at Afcon, there was definitely some spark from the team with the team famously knocking out the hosts Egypt, led by Mo Salah.
Our attacking talents like Percy Tau, Lebogang Phiri, Lebo Maboe, Keagan Dolly and Thembinkosi Lorch all have the talent to create.
But they have failed to combine into a consistent goal threat.
One has to wonder how we came to this after those crazy days in 2010 - the world was quite literally at our feet then.
Anyway, I wonder just how much soul-searching South African football has done during coronavirus lockdown.
With the professional game desperate to get back to action in order to save itself from financial ruin, just what does it say about the game and its priorities?
Yes, football provides livelihoods and the entire ecosystem of the game is in peril.
But I’ve spoken about all this already.
What about the game?
Do the players actually realise that it could all disappear just like that? That the game is after all a game?
That sport as a profession comes from the social contract that fans want the game and people with money organise those games?
What does it mean for players, though?
Is it just a job now? Or is there still a passion for glory?
Do players want to improve or will they go into self-preservation mode?
What we could see in the next while is this - footballers’ careers will be cut short by the coronavirus.
If money doesn’t come flooding back into the game, bigger contracts for older players will disappear.
Younger players are cheaper and clubs will look to them to fill their squads.
That means that manne in their prime - 25 to 30 years of age - will likely only have one shot at major international titles.
If they don’t qualify for Afcon and the World Cup, this current crop of Bafana players will probably be cast aside and the next generation will have to start afresh - there will be no grace to give them another chance.
The sooner players realise that they have a choice to make: step up or clear out.
If they don’t grasp that opportunity, club owners will make the choice for them.
And the last thing fans want to see is mediocrity when clubs and the game are throwing everything into the game to ensure its survival.