Posts Tagged ‘bafana bafana’

Bafana BaGhana Basasta Disaster!

August 12, 2010

(AKA The lessons that were NOT learnt during the World Cup 2010…)

Its 8:40pm, and I should be at the game tonight.

Instead, I have just got home after an hour and a half joy ride trying to get to the game between Bafana Bafana and Ghana (BaGhana was sooo July ‘10), and now I have resorted to watching the game live on TV, match ticket in hand, as opposed to my unreserved seat at Soccer City, oops, I meant FNB stadium 🙂

This was supposed to be my much anticipated ‘Return of the Mlungus’ as my brother and I excitedly geared up for the match. It was like a scene out of Rambo as we laid out our battle outfits as we did countless times during WC2010: Makarapa – check, Vuvuzela – check, Bafana jersey – check, SA scarf – check, and the coup de grace, the green overall with “Mlungu 1” adorned in bright yellow on the back spotted numerous times at many world cup games. We were ready! A mocking parallel to those many freezing nights during WC2010 is that it was bitterly cold tonight. So we had to pack our Winter Warmer Emergency Bag including Beanie, Ski Gloves, and personally for me, knee high Ski Socks. After the recorded coldest night in the history of Joburg for the month of June, during the Brazil/North Korea game, we weren’t taking any chances!

We were up for it! Both of us were looking extremely forward to going to the game to support Bafana, to blow vuvuzela’s for our stars Mphela, Pienaar, Tshabalala, Khune et al and to play our part in carrying on the GEES generated by the World Cup!

Sadly, that is where it ended

Buying the match tickets on Computicket was the easy part. At R100 a piece to watch the clash of our nations favourites against our adopted & beloved quarterfinal cousins, it seemed fair value, compared to the R350 I paid to get a ticket to watch the off-form Springboks at the same battle ground next week. The only thing that raised an eyebrow was that the seats were unreserved? According to the SAFA spokesman, it seems many people haven’t been to Soccer City before so they will “struggle to find their seats”! (hmmm… I wonder how the Mexican, Brazilian and South Korean fans managed to find their seats during the WC2010?)

Getting to the game was potentially the deal breaker for making this gargantuan effort – note that the weather had no bearing on our decision to go. That said, based on the pleasurable experience of going to Soccer City no less than six (6!) times during the world cup, I assumed that the transport organisation would be if not as efficient as during the colonialists FIFA’s brief reign over South Africa, then at least up to a similar standard. In hindsight, as someone once said, assumptions are the mother of all…!

Being typically sceptical Joburgers we didn’t go into this one blindly. We double-checked of course, and after some nifty googling we stumbled onto the www.safa.net website, which conveniently emblazoned all over the home page travel arrangements for tonight’s match. The three options were: Train it; Rea Vaya bus it; or Park & Walk it (for the WC2010 uninformed that means DRIVE). The ‘specially arranged’ trains leaving from JHB Park Station were at 14:53pm, 15:36pm and 18:21pm. So for the working class that only left one feasible option: the 6pm train, also, who wanted to arrive 4.5 hours early?? Against making the 6pm train was fighting the notorious peak hour M1 South traffic to get to the stattion, and we couldn’t run the risk of missing the train. Thus Metrorail was ruled out. The fore-mentioned traffic hindrance didn’t seem all that appealing so Park & Walk was ruled out… although I did buy a ‘Shareworld’ Park & Walk ticket anyway as an emergency option (At R15 it was worth the safety net). The website clearly stated that Rea Vaya busses were leaving from “Con Hill” every “5 minutes between 5pm and 8pm”. As Con Hill was suitably located for us, with plenty street signs dotted along the way pointing us to the location, and also due to the great reviews this mode of transport had during the world cup, this was the option for us!

Con Hill here we come!!

But we came… and… left.

We arrived at Con Hill, and there was not a bus in sight! The security guard pointed us in the direction of the Civic Centre. But we weren’t taking our chances. If SAFA can’t get it right, what chance did the poor security guard have?

Cue the safety net Park & Walk ticket! Luckily for me, I learnt a secret route during the World Cup, via the western suburbs of Jhb snaking through the northern parts of Soweto, to get to Soccer City (if my mom only knew that her precious boykies were driving through Soweto at night!) If it wasn’t for the secret route we would have missed the WC2010 opening game due to the now infamous ‘Opening Match Gridlock’. As we embarked on my secret route through areas of Joburg my suburbanite brother had never seen before, we ducked under the highway and I noticed the peak hour traffic back up that we would now avoid. I quietly gave myself a pat on the back. The secret route worked again, and it took us next to no time to get to Nasrec Road…  But that was the beginning of the end.

There are only 2 ways to get to Shareworld – via Nasrec Road or via Main Reef Road. The route in from the other side was closed off by the cops (I know because we tried it!) During the World Cup we sat in traffic on Nasrec road, which moved along at snail’s pace but eventually we made it to the game on time. But that was with the advantage of arriving plenty time in advance and with a battalion of metro cops to marshal the traffic. Tonight the back-up down Nasrec road spanned the length of the entire road – that is a couple of kilometres – and not a metro cop in sight! Based on my world cup experience I knew that we were in for trouble, and there was no way in hell, with just over an hour to go before kick-off, that we would make it into the stadium on time, let alone find a parking in the chaos.

We had to make a call: sit in the car, tear our hair out and struggle to get to the game. Or call it.

Common sense prevailed – we called it!

I did suggest to my brother that we try finding an alternative route. But that was taking a chance it would be better elsewhere, further complicated that we did not know how to find any other way with no marshals to assist us. My secret route only knew one direction! As I did a u-turn to hit it back onto the highway, I felt guilty that we were wimping out of it. But my boet, wise beyond his years, consoled me with these words “It shouldn’t be this hard to get to the game”.

We came, we most certainly tried, and we sadly left.

All kitted out and nowhere to go!

So what does this all say about our post world cup abilities? For those who doubt my optimism and patriotism and think I am conveniently backing the naysayers, go read my other blog entries … I am the biggest Advocate for Mzansi! But this whole experience left a very bitter taste in my mouth, as I have read countless articles on how the Administrators of the game were going to take the lessons learnt from the world cup and move forward in a positive direction (and the leaders of our country on a more general basis). Yet, the first opportunity they had was blown. Badly. They spoke of how they wanted to attract more whitey’s (whose pale faces were plentiful at the world cup games) to support local soccer. But based on tonight’s experience, would I dare try it again? On tv the stadium was half full. I read an interesting article by the sports columnist Mark Gleeson in which he said that low attendances at local soccer games are caused by the “appalling experience” of going to a game, from the “transport, parking, seating, concession stands and general bonhomie in the crowd”. I cannot comment about the inside of the stadium, I never made it there, but from a transport point of view, the organisers definitely missed a trick. Even my mother commented to me, as I was despairing to her on the way home (moms give the best sympathy!), that how could it have messed it up SOOOO badly as there was a perfect transport infrastructure from the world cup!

And worst of all? I missed a perfect start to Pitso’s reign as Mphela scored a cracker for a 1 nil win!

We begrudgingly arrived home after the 1.5 hour ride around Joburg.

My brother got out my car, and all he could say was “Thanks for the ride…”

Mzansi Fo Sho!

* I have print-screened and saved the SAFA website transport details in case of any denials! Let the typical weak excuses begin. I am going to ask for my money back… watch this space!

Unused match ticket for sale!

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World Cup Winners and Losers… Part 1

July 13, 2010

Wow! Did the World Cup hangover hit me big time yesterday…  I’m still in a dwaal! My sports tour is officially over, and when people ask me what am I going to do, I despondently reply“the menial things in life like go to work, do some gym…” Back to reality!

Going to the final on Sunday was unreal, and I think the magnitude of the event has still not registered properly in my mind. I went to a soccer world cup final – probably the single biggest event in the world – what one-off event could possibly be bigger??

Much has been said & written in the news around the world about the success of the World Cup and what it has done for South Africa and for the unity of the country, none better described than by my mate Squeaky, whose creative headgear on Sunday was only bettered by the outrageous attempt by some whack job to plant a woollen hat on the world cup trophy!

From a soccer sense this was a world cup of unexpected results. This was the first final without one of Brazil, Germany, Argentina, or Italy! Spain were the best team, rightly so, as every time they stepped on the field they endeavoured to show the world why soccer is called the ‘beautiful game’. In a world cup surprisingly devoid of the expected superstars such as Ronaldo and Rooney, Uruguay’s Diego Forlan rose to the occasion and was rightly awarded the player of the tournament with some sumptuous goals and creative brilliance.  And bet you didn’t realise that the only unbeaten team of the whole comp was the minnows of football: New Zealand’s ‘All Whites’. How ‘bout them apples!

I am sure that in the weeks ahead much more will be written and debated about the successes and (limited) failures of South Africa 2010. Not much more to add here. When I lay in bed on Sunday trying to get over the excitement of the day, I thought about the best and worst of WC2010. I’m sure everyone has their favourite moments. Here is my take on the winners of the WC2010:

Madiba Magic – Just after the last performers ran off after the closing ceremony, I said to my mate how awesome would it be for Mandela to make a surprise appearance,  and right then and there, he rolled out on his golf cart, Colgate smile and all! The stadium erupted for South Africa’s most favourite ubabamkhulu (grandfather)!! Even though he was a fair distance away I could almost sense his magnetic and empowering aura. This man has done it all for South Africa, and then some! If it wasn’t for the Madiba Magic, we would all have been watching this WC2010 on our tv’s… Happy Bday Madiba for July 18!

The Organisers –  give massive credit where its due. They put together a monumental effort! Amongst other things I reckoned that transport would be the hindrance to a successful world cup. Especially in Joburg. However, barring some initial teething problems especially during the opening game, there were almost minimal complaints in the press thereafter as the organisers rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in ensuring fans got to/from the games and around the cities hassle free. I took a spin on the Gautrain and even caught a train from Park Station for the first time in 15 years! Very impressed indeed. Big ups to Comrade Danny Jordaan and his LOC!

The Police. Dinkum! In recent times SAPS & their ugly cousins, the Metro cops, have been rightly vilified for their lazy attitude, corrupt activities and general lack of performance. With the tag of crime capital of the world preceding WC2010, the police had a job to do to shed this deserved image, and what a job they did! WC2010 came and went almost incident free and with NO major problems or crises.  Thieves were tracked down, arrested and charged at a speed usually reserved for orders at the local Chicken Licken.  Nothing inspires a person to do his job like a bit of self-pride and respect. Hopefully, all these plaudits will give each and every policeman the motivation they need to carry on doing a great job. This is one legacy of the World Cup that really needs to carry on, we were ALL made to feel safe, and now the Bokgata have no excuses as they have proved it CAN BE DONE!

Madam & Eve, The Star, 13 July 2010

Paul the psychic octopus – Batting at 8 for 8 and getting every single prediction right was no fluke, Paul became the unwitting star of the WC2010. Winners love him, losing teams hate him, men want to be him, woman want to eat him! The Germans are backing his soon to be released auto-biography, and the current most popular dish in Holland is calamari & cheese with a free Heini!  He is going into retirement now, however, I reckon the bookies kidnapped him!

The Stadiums – Admit it, when you walked into Soccer City for the first time your first word was “JISLAAK”. How many (larger) countries in this world can boast the quality and beauty of the stadia South Africa built for WC2010? They were a tourist must see within themselves! From the Calabash design of Soccer City, to the arch-wrapped Mose Mabhida in Durban to the breathtaking backdrop of Cape Town Stadium, we are truly blessed with world-class facilities. Like the rest of us I am also concerned about the post-world cup white elephant phenomena, but the most positive aspect of the stadiums is the symbol of pride its gives the people of each region. A price cannot be put on that! Rugby should fill the void of the bigger centres  – Springboks/All Blacks Soccer City 21 August see you there! – and hopefully the other stadiums will be put to good use. If anything, I am sure we will be put on standby if the Aussies cannot pull it off come 2022 😉

Super Mario! My colleague was at the Durban semi’s and this is how he described it “there was this guy sitting on a wheelchair just in front of us. Next thing he rose up from his chair! It was a miracle!! He hopped the barriers and sprinted onto the field!! Unbelievable!” As far as light-hearted moments go, Italian Mario Ferri’s single handed crusade protesting that his favourite player was not picked was probably the best of ‘em, and it only cost him a R3,000 fine! (imagine 20,000 Bok fans running on the field in protest of PDivvy leaving out Francois Steyn!). The Bliksem of the tournament goes to the security fella who stiff-armed the introoda – in South Africa we don’t have streeka’s – who tried to touch the trophy before Sunday’s kickoff. Bakkies Botha would have been proud of this ‘sleight of hand’.

Hit first, ask questions later!

Vuvuzelas – Mrs Balls Chutney, Kreepy Krawly and now the Vuvuzela becoming an iconic SA export! Love it or hate it, the Vuvu became the symbol of the world cup. Debate raged on, and watching ESPN earlier it still goes on, whether it should have been banned or not. Personally, as I have gone to local soccer games and thus have witnessed the vibrant songs of the local fans , I think the stadiums would have been awkwardly silent as the majority of these locals sadly couldn’t afford or didn’t have access to match tickets. The Vuvu ensured a noisy, festive atmosphere at all games, and anyone who has blown one knows how much fun it is! Per the linguistic organisation Today Translations: “Thanks to the World Cup, the vuvuzela has the entered the shared language of the world and joined the ranks of words that need no translation.” Now thats Ayoba!!

Zapiro

The street vendors – to me the roads of Joburg seemed less colourful today as the swarms of street vendors have probably divvied up their hard-earned winnings and have taken off to Mauritius for a well deserved rest. The speed that these guys sourced the regalia of the flavour-of-the-day team was astounding. One day it was English scarves, then Brazilian and then finally just Spanish and Dutch (I never did see North Korea though, did anyone??) Each item was a commodity with a suggested ‘retail price’ – 100 bucks for a scarf, R60 for a beanie – and you work your way down from there… Finally these guys had something to sell that everyone wanted! Forget the cellphone adapters and plastic hangers.  Another legacy which needs to remain is all the cars adorned with rainbow adorned side mirrors and mini flags. It was pretty awesome seeing all this GEES whilst trawling through the painful Jozi traffic!

And finally…

South Africa and its people! I read in The Star paper earlier: “This wasn’t about Spain 1 Holland 0 it was simply SA won”! Hands down the biggest winners of this world cup were all of us South Africans whose infectious enthusiasm outshone the soccer spectacle. I have never been to any other World Cups, but who am I to argue when nearly every single one of the foreign experts and journalists claim this to have been the most festive, fun and friendliest World Cup ever!! The renowned Mzansi warmth and hospitality reverberated through every single foreign visitor to our shores, who are surely going to take the message of goodwill home with them. Organisers were worried that the early departure of Bafana would dent the interest of the country, but the opposite happened, partly due to our national pride and partly because we are a sports mad country we simply just picked another favourite team to support! And the rallying behind Ghana, which I witnessed at the game at Soccer City, was stuff of legend. I am truly proud, as I have always been, but DEFINITELY more so today, to call myself ‘Proudly South African’!

Mzansi Fo Sho!

Do YOU believe in miracles??

June 22, 2010

I was surfing a webpage the other day titled the ‘20 greatest commentator quotes of all time’.

As this was an American website, all but maybe 1 or 2 of the quotes were unfamiliar to me. The quotes were mostly from the big 3 US sports – namely (American) Football, Basketball and Baseball – in which the championship winning team of the year are affectionately yet arrogantly titled the ‘world champions’. So, obviously, there was no soccer, rugby or bullfighting quotes. What a shame as the list is missing at least one classic inebriated  Hughie Blayden’s “Jacque DeVilliers UNBELIEVABLE!!” (rugger fans will smile knowingly…)

That said, the #1 quote on the list was one I certainly did recognise, not because I saw the game (the match in question was played in 1980 I think) but because it was glamorised in the film ‘Miracle’ about the apparently underdog USA Olympic Ice Hockey team’s improbable victory over the undefeated Soviet Union. The usual classic Hollywood fodder David vs. Goliath come-from-behind movie that triggers mass American patriotism glorified by Disney. Whatever brings in the bucks!

The commentator of the day, with a few seconds remaining in the game, and with the US leading the Soviet Union by one goal, shouted out “Do you believe in Miracles???!!” which rated by the website is apparently regarded as the #1 sports commentator quote of all time.

The question is, and I refer this to our beloved Bafana Bafana fans, as our flavour of the month national soccer team embark on a seemingly impossible task later this afternoon, do you believe in miracles??

Looking back at the games so far I felt Bafana rose to the occasion, played beyond their capabilities, to eke out a draw against a highly rated Mexican team in Game 1.

Sadly, in Game 2, Bafana got abruptly bumped back to earth against a Uruguayan team who had obviously not read the Cinderella-story script penned by Sepp Blatter & his cronies. Then again, neither had the ref! Nevertheless, the gulf in class and pedigree between the 2 teams ranked on complete opposite ends of the football scale was there for all to see. The exuberance of the Bafana fans was unreal before the game, the perimeters of the stadium were awash in green and yellow and of course the fantastic rainbow colours of surely the best looking national flag in the world. OUR WORLD WAS ROCKING!!

Sadly, we were not ‘rewarded’ with the desired result, and the fickleness of the superficial South African fans was plain to see as they left in droves before the final whistle blew – this was not the product that FIFA and our media sold to them. I was sitting in the stands at Loftus at the end of the game and I felt really sorry for the players who tried their best on the day but were obviously just not good enough – which many pundits actually predicted before the WC commenced. I felt ashamed as a fan that when the game ended the Bafana players needed the love that  gushed over them in bucket-loads leading up to the game, none best illustrated than during the Sandton parade. But when they looked up into the stands for support, many, many empty seats glared back at them.

With kick off pending against France later today, the French team is riddled with controversy and turmoil, so never has there been a better opportunity for a football ‘minnow’ to beat a superpower of world football. The scene is perfectly set: If Bafana play the right team, come out attacking and manage to nick an early goal, and maybe another before half time, there is a chance, albeit a really small one, that the football world could be turned on its head. Coupled with either a win by Mexico or Uruguay (a draw will mean these 2 teams advance to the next round) then maybe, just maybe….

Time for us Bafana fans to get UNITED behind the boys for just ONE more game. Let’s DO it!! Kenako!!

Hopefully then we will have an answer to the question posed by the American commentator from that famous day in US sport: “Yes! Miracles DO happen!”

… And then, my friends, the PARTYwill start!

Viva Bafana Viva!

Mzanso fo sho!!


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