A World Cup Odyssey: Part I
July 15, 2014 | by Ken Ilchuk
Martin Targett stood there, weeping slightly, hugging a security guard in the middle of the Brazilian consulate in New York City, experiencing overwhelming feelings of relief and joy. The Dix Hills Soccer Club’s president, and coach of the BU16 Villians, had nearly short-circuited a trip to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil by misplacing his tickets. But now, thanks to the man in Targett’s embrace, his tickets were found, and the trip was back on!
How did he get here? It’s a story of determination, financial responsibility, and a love of soccer that started three and half years earlier.
“Not long after the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, my 12-year old son David, who had watched virtually every game of the tournament, asked me, ‘Can I go to the World Cup in Brazil in 2014?’ I replied, ‘If you save up enough money, then I will take you,’” Targett explained. “He asked how much, and I told him, ‘About $4000 for the flights, hotel and tickets.’”
Possibly not realizing the seriousness of his son’s request, Targett forgot about it and thought little of the 2014 World Cup. In the meantime, David began earning money as an Intramural ref for the Dix Hills SC, then became an Assistant Referee Grade 9 working LIJSL travel games. Soon, he had earned his Grade 8 certification, and at 14 years old, he was working as a center referee. Refereeing games nearly every weekend, David had saved $4,500 in just over three years. He promptly reminded his father of their discussion back in 2010.
“Unfortunately I had not been quite so diligent, but a promise is a promise,” Targett said. “So in August 2013, at 6am in the morning, I entered my requests into the FIFA World Cup lottery system. On November 5th, I was notified that my entries had given me tickets to games in Sao Paolo and Rio De Janeiro on June 26th and June 28th.”
The Targett’s would get to see the last game of the group stage, and one of the first games in the Round of 16.
“Of course we had no idea who we would see, but David didn’t care,” Targett said. “I had four tickets to each game, so one of David’s close friends, Shane Sacks, who is the goalkeeper from my BU16 Travel team, came with us, and we had one spare in case anybody else decided to join us.”
The planning then started in earnest. First, they had to find flights that didn’t conflict with the boys’ final exams, and accommodations that were both safe and affordable, all within their budget. Then they had to renew their passports, acquire Brazilian Visas, and get all the paperwork in order. They encountered some delays, but things eventually fell into place, and on Friday, June 13th, Targett went to the Brazilian Consulate in New York for the final step in the preparations.
“I had an appointment to drop off our passports at the Brazilian Consulate, which required showing proof of World Cup tickets,” Targett explained. “So I took all the paperwork and documents, including our game tickets, and took care of the final details.”
That’s when the problems started.
“I realized at about 7pm on Friday night that my World Cup tickets were missing,” Targett said. “PANIC set in! I triple-checked my briefcase, I retraced my steps in my mind, I drove into work Saturday morning and searched my office, but to no avail. The only place they could be was at the Brazilian Consulate. My only hope was that an honest individual found them.”
Needless to say, Martin didn’t have a good weekend.
“I had no way of checking with them until Monday, so the entire weekend was absolute torture,” he said. “I could not tell anyone, so I had to smile and talk about the upcoming trip while wanting to throw up at the same time. Forget about sleeping that weekend. I just lay there for 2 nights in a cold sweat.
“Anyway, first thing Monday morning I went to the city and waited two hours to get into the consulate and took a seat,” Targett continued. “I spoke with the security guard about my reason for being there and he informed me that he had found the tickets (all 8 of them), and had put them somewhere safe. So I hugged him, a little too much probably. But now I could finally look forward to the trip.”
Martin, David, and Shane took off on June 24th, the same day as the boys’ last exam, for a 10 ½ hour flight in coach class to Sao Paulo, Brazil, where they would spend two nights at the Hotel Pan Americano.
“The hotel was certainly not what the pictures on their website made it out to be,” Targett said. “The hot tub had not seen water in five years, the gym had an inch of dust, and the pool had dead things floating in it, but we were here in Brazil, in one of the largest cities in the world, at the biggest sporting event in the universe, and we were going to love every minute it!”
Next Week: Part II - The Games