‘Ghana wins World Cup!’
A video game comes to the rescue when Nic’s son is devastated by the twists of football fate.
Only the most loyal Ghanaian citizens took the Uruguay handball and subsequent missed Ghana penalty as hard as Tom, aged 10, did.

He was stunned into silence at the time and took himself off to bed without even witnessing the awful final penalty shoot-out that unfolded.

Throughout the weekend Tom, sometimes in mid-sentence, broke into quiet tears.

‘It just isn't fair, Daddy,’ he wept as we drove to get Sunday morning croissants. ‘Everyone I support loses.’

I didn't know how to respond.

I mean, he's right, isn't he? Bafana Bafana, Nigeria, Algeria, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, then, shockingly, Brazil and finally Ghana... and that was before Argentina confirmed the trend.  

It is difficult not to feel as if the fates or the gods have got a private plan for you when defeats stretch themselves into an apparently ever lengthening rope. But I suppressed my own self-pity and said: ‘Don't take it personally, Tom ... it's just a game.’

For some reason, that made him cry even harder.

Video game justice

But that night, something almost miraculous happened.

A bit of background: recently we had a break-in and the ever fair and just Outsurance (endorsement fees gratefully accepted) replaced a whole lot of my children's computer games.

Along with the unseasonal haul of replacement goodies, came a Fifa 2010 PlayStation game.

On Sunday evening I wandered in and out of the lounge going about my business of preparing for the week, struggling with the fact that the children were, unaccountably, still on holiday. Each time I came in, the surprisingly authentic commentator - I think it is the real guy - was complimenting another blistering goal by either Ghana or Côte d'Ivoire against Italy, France or Brazil.
At about 9.30, buried in data at my computer, I felt the presence of someone beside me. I looked up into the seraphically smiling face of my 10-year-old son.

‘We beat them Daddy,’ he said. ‘We won the World Cup.’

If I have ever been tempted to sneer at the very possibility of a corrective experience as a way of addressing childhood emotional injury, then Sunday's little episode with the PlayStation has given me pause.

Now I am not making any grand claims for 'computer games', but I can tell you that Tom is bright and smiling and preparing for tonight's semi-final between Uruguay and the Netherlands.

Tom is backing what he calls ‘the Hollish’, but he has got hold of a large Ghanaian flag.

‘We gonna support them till the end,’ he says, "because they should have been here.’

How do your kids deal with the disappointment of their team losing?

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