The view from South Africa

Karen Lotter runs the independent football blog Vuvuzela South Africa (http://www.vuvuzelasouthafrica.co.za/). I decided to ask Karen about preparations for the tournament and what visiting fans can expect next year. Here’s what she had to say...

How are preparations for the tournament going?

"Well, it seems like all the brand new 2010 Stadiums are on track and will be handed over at the right time. Cape Town is preparing for the World Cup Draw on 4 December and people here are buying South African flags, learning to diski dance and making sure they know all the words of our four-language national anthem."

What makes you so confident?

"As Dr Irvin Khosa, Chairman of South Africa's 2010 World Cup Local Organising Committee, has said, 'The days of planning are over, we are in the final straight'. I know there is still a lot being done on transport, but I feel very confident, because the new Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele was our provincial Premier here in KwaZulu-Natal and before that he was a brilliant provincial Transport Minister. So if anyone can sort out an improved transport infrastructure, it will certainly be Minister Ndebele."

In the UK we heard about the strikes which appeared to be disrupting construction work. What happened and how was it all settled?

"Winter is strike season - it's almost over. I think the strikes were bound to happen. The stadium workers belong to a few unions and it took a while for the negotiations between the members and their unions and the minister of Labour and FIFA to begin."

"South Africa has only been a democracy for 15 years and we are still struggling to untangle the mess that centuries of colonialism and apartheid have created."

Could these strikes flare up again and further threaten preparations for the tournament?

"It's almost spring, so I don't think so."

What kind of a welcome can visiting fans expect in South Africa in 2010?

"South Africans are good at uniting for a big event, even if we tend to bicker among ourselves, so I think fans can imagine a multicultural rolling out of the red grass mat. Fans can expect great weather; very friendly people; first world facilities; good roads, accommodation etc."

"Besides the obvious - awesome football, I think fans will enjoy the space. Africa is big, the nights are still very dark in most places outside the cities and you can see the Milky Way and the Southern Cross. Plus there is plenty of wildlife from coast to coast."

Which cities or stadiums are likely to generate the best atmosphere?

"Wow, all the cities have their own vibe. Johannesburg is the biggest city in the country and home to Soccer City. Cape Town has the curvaceous new Green Point Stadium and the wine routes and so much stuff to do. And then I'm naturally biased towards Durban with its Moses Mabhida Stadium (pictured) with the arch - because this is where I live. Durban is in the Kingdom of KwaZulu, the home of King Zhaka and we have the warm Indian Ocean with beautiful safe white beaches all year round."

Real Madrid's Xabi Alonso took offence to the Vuvuzela during the Confederations Cup. Will the African trumpet survive the calls for a ban during games?

"This is an African World Cup and we will do it the African way. The Vuvuzela is very much part of the soccer games in South Africa. I have six of my own and I treasure them. Sepp Blatter has made it very clear that the Vuvuzela will stay. I know some Europeans are running Ban the Vuvuzela websites and blogs. I think it must be so hard for them to realize that they can't order us Africans around anymore!"

In your opinion who is the best player in the Bafana Bafana squad?

"Well, I like Steven Pienaar, Teko Modise, Benjamin Parker and Richard Henyekane now - we'll see what happens after the European tour in September - they have a series of friendlies coming up."

How far will Bafana Bafana go next year?

"It is too early to ask this - they performed well in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup and with Joel Santana as coach I would hope at least to the quarter finals."

1 comment:

Karen said...

I forgot to mention two more important aspects of South Africa I think fans, especially English fans will enjoy - we all speak English, well some English anyway - it is one of our 11 official languages. The most important point is that we have great beer in South Africa - and because it is hot here, we like it very cold!

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