I’ve cycled to Cape Town twice mainly because one of my best mates Adam Bannister (tenuously related to Roger Bannister who ran the four minute mile) lives in Cape Town. He’s South African with English routes and is passionate about everything. And I mean everything football, Africa, wildlife, friends, family… He’s a great bloke and he was at the game.
He was at the game and this is his report:
The big screen counted down from 60 seconds…59, 58, 57..7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…the FIFA WORLD CUP 2010 had officially been opened and there I was with my family watching from the stands of Africa’s biggest and most impressive Stadium. Nearly 90 000 people witnessed the event but in reality 500 million people around the world had their eyes glued to the happenings on the field.
Fighter jets flew synchronized overhead, dancers pranced over the field and pieces of fabric were woven into the shape of the world. Giant foot prints made their way across Africa and musicians including R-Kelly and Mandoza sang their hearts out. A giant Dung-beetle even rolled a football across the field. The crowd was euphoric…and the game had not yet begun.
When South Africa ran onto the field the sea of yellow from the stands went mad, this wave extended out of the stadium down the streets of Soweto, into Johannesburg, into the Fan Fests and into every corner of the country. The nation had been bitten by Bafana Bafana; even those who couldn’t care about football were watching this game. This game was different! This game was about a country that had at last found something to make them happy, something to unite all colours, something to remove all negativity, something to cheer about and something to be proud of. And we were proud!
Two moments will never leave me. One when our great National Anthem was played. The words echoed around the stadium and people clutched their hearts. It was about pride and belief. The moment was here when South Africa had proved to the World that we could do anything. And not just do anything, but do anything well! The next moment I will never forget as long as I live is the goal by Tshabalala. It was magnificent! I have never and, I mean never, seen or heard anything like the moments that followed that goal. I promise you that those astronauts sitting in the International Space Station would have heard the noise erupt. Even with earplugs the sound was deafening! And for those few minutes no one minded being deaf! People turned and hugged their unknown neighbours, high fives, whistles and back slaps…words simply can’t explain the emotions.
The joy was temporarily dented when Mexico equalized but then people got behind their team again. The reality was that a draw was an excellent result against a team ranked nearly 70 places above us. We had played with our hearts and fought off the nerves; all our players had done their very best and done us proud! They had given their all and the crowd had done their part too. At the end of the game I was exhausted…I felt like I had played every second. My voice was gone and my lips were bleeding from blowing my Vuvuzela so hard. But I did not care. I could not stop smiling inside. I had just witnessed and been part of the best day in South Africa’s history.
This country is united! This country is absolutely alive with passion! Our blood is Green and Gold!