Keen viewers of my “In Focus” TV segments filmed at my VOA cubicle will notice a trusty back-drop in many of the shoots – his name is “Footix,” and he was the official mascot of the 1998 World Cup in France.  “Footix” is a rooster, one of the national symbols of France.

World Cup mascots usually show a characteristic feature of the host country.  One of my objectives during my first trip to South Africa in June is to give a high-five to Zakumi, the official mascot of the 2010 World Cup.

Zakumi is a leopard, a common animal found in South Africa, and his green and gold colors represent the national colors of South Africa’s national sports teams.  A high-five for you, Zakumi!