48 million people with one common goal
So I am in South Africa! The blog has had to wait as they sent me out to work straight off the flight. I only managed to sleep for two hours on the way over but thought it would not matter as I had the day to sleep some more. Not a chance. When we reached our accommodation, I was told to hurry up as I was going straight out to record some audio and then I would be producing a show in the afternoon. We ended up in a safari park, recording the presenters’ reactions to the wildlife and getting some vox pops. I then produced Drive with Adrian Durham, where he tried to be positive about England’s chances. The listeners on the whole were quite downbeat though. It is amazing the way people are playing down our prospects. I have even heard people criticising Fabio Capello for not knowing his best team or formation. Don’t they appreciate he has to try different things in the build-up? Is he supposed to do it in our opening game instead? As Michael Winner might suggest, calm down dear!!!
The atmosphere here is just incredible. Everyone is so excited about the World Cup. It starts as soon as you arrive in the country. The first thing we were confronted by as we disembarked was a giant poster featuring the Home Secretary and Nelson Mandela himself, covered in ‘Welcome to South Africa’ slogans written in at least six different languages. Posters of African players like Aaron Mokoena (South Africa) and Alex Song (Cameroon) were hanging from ceiling. That was symbolic of a general feeling about this tournament. This World Cup is not just a South African World Cup. It belongs to the entire continent.
At the airport I really began to feel just how big the World Cup really is. Football fans from all over were there – Brazilians, Dutch, English, Argentineans and two Mexicans, who were dressed in their team’s kit and matching giant sombreros. Scores of staff were positioned throughout the airport, on hand to answer any questions. You can feel the eagerness of the South Africans to ensure their country puts on a great tournament.
The first game starts shortly. I woke up this morning to find pretty much everyone working in our lodge wearing the Bafana Bafana shirt. Vuvuzelas were being blown at 8 in the morning. For once, it wasn’t too annoying! We had to go to Soccer City this morning to collect our accreditation. Traffic near the stadium was gridlocked as South Africans – black and white – headed early to the ground. Everyone had made so much effort for the day whether it be wearing the team shirt, painting their faces with the Rainbow Nation’s flag, or blowing the ubiquitous vuvuzela. One young guy had even glued a football to his shoe! It feels like a massive party is getting underway.
When you see how much it means to people here, you can’t help but hope the host nation has a good tournament. If South Africa wins against Mexico, it will set the country alight. I heard one radio presenter say on a local Johannesburg station that the game will see 48 million people with one common goal – victory.
You can hear all 64 matches in the World Cup live on talkSPORT – 1053/1089 MW.
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