and South African soccer spirit.
07.06.2010 - 07.06.2010 22 °C
I wish I'd been better prepared... but there's still time to get more familiar with who actually is in the German team. I have to say I'm not a soccer expert at all and when me and some colleagues drove out to the Atteridgeville township in the west of Pretoria this afternoon to watch them at their first public training session, I really had not much clue who they all were.
After hitting the downtown rush hour we arrived just on time with them. There they were and luckily there was at least one 'real' soccer fan in our small group who could tell the rest of us the names of the players. Binoculars would have been handy to have as well, though. I thought of buying some for my next game drive but maybe I'll get some before for the next match.
The best part of the training session was the athmosphere. There were a few hundred fans, many of them German but also a lot of (German-) South Africans and locals from the area. Also lots of flags and Vuvuzelas - the South African plastic horn that makes such incredible noise.
Unfortunately I had forgotten mine at home but I still need to practice more anyway... now only 4 days to go so I better start. At the end of the training, the players threw their t-shirts over the fence and we almost got run over by the crowd that went after them. Luckily we escaped and they went off in their bus.
Overall, the whole session was very organised - not too many people but a lot of (friendly) security guards, police, mounted police, armoured police trucks outside, and even police in the parking lot who chased some local kids away from our car who asked for some money... They were well prepared as it looked and I hope it'll all go well in terms of security. I'm optimistic though because now I really feel how much people here want this event to become a success. Even though - as the critics say - the money could have been way better spent on other, more important issues than soccer stadiums that won't be used as much in the future, I feel it does bring the nation a little closer together. And this is what is important, especially in South Africa!
My plan is at the moment to go and see 2 matches in the stadium (Pretoria and Johannesburg) and for the other interesting ones check out the public viewing areas - there are a few of these outside Pretoria. For the opening match on Friday I'm off to the German school here in town where they also have big screens I heard.
Today however I noticed that by now - due to many 'soccer shirt Fridays' in the past weekes, I'm well stocked with South African yellow and green 'Bafana Bafana' gear but NOTHING German. So at lunchtime I went outside and walked over to a busy junction where hawkers sell all sorts of flags to put on cars to bu some 'mirror socks'. These are little sock-type flags to pull over the outside car mirrors. Looks very cute and after swapping one with my colleague I now have a German and a South African one. Because they look so cute I wondered why they weren't available in Germany for the last world cup but after I put them on I knew: they wouldn't have been allowed probably because with them on my small Polo mirrors, I can only see half of the mirror when they're on. The German police would probably have banned them immediately but luckily this is South Africa. ;-) And after the soccer I might be able to reuse them as a swimming cap in the pool!
So, I'm ready now, looking forward to my first World Cup 'live' in a country to begin. The German boys look fit as well, so fingers crossed it'll go well! And also for the Bafana squad who already beat Denmark in a friendly on Saturday.
Ayoba! as they say here when it comes to soccer (or 'diski' as it's called in SA slang)
One last thing - Diski reminds me of the Diski dance I haven't written about, yet. Not sure if its known in Europe but here, its a big thing. The sort of soccer line dance everyone tries to learn at the moment, especially on Soccer Fridays. At my office they even threw a big BBQ outside for all staff and even hired some professional Diski dancers to teach us. Great fun that was (still can't do it properly though...).