It was a long time in the making, but the first ever football World Cup was finally held in Africa. And the host country should be proud – well done to South Africa!
Why Sport Matters returned to South Africa, but this time with a different assignment — producing video reports for MLSSoccer.com as well as video fan research interviews. Click HERE to see all of John’s reports which appeared on Major League Soccer’s website.
The week leading up to the 11 June opening match saw a festive atmosphere throughout the country. The yellow colours of the Bafana Bafana (South African national team) were seen everywhere and hum from the celebrated vuvuzelas could be heard at all hours. Hope and happiness helped put the South Africans in a party mood, and it was incredible to see the rainbow nation finally coming together as one. Spirits were still high following the opening draw with Mexico. Why Sport Matters was at the heart of this passion at the official FanFest in Johannesburg and celebrated alongside about 10,000 South Africans (see video).
It has been a summer, holiday season these past 2 weeks in South Africa, which has allowed Why Sport Matters to take in some warm weather sports. In Durban, we took in the beach culture along the Indian Ocean – the warm water a stark contrast to the chilly Atlantic over in Cape Town. This region is also known as the land of 1,000 hills with its rolling landscape and green countryside. The city skyline has been enhanced with the addition of the new stadium to be used to host the FIFA World Cup matches in June this year. The sleek design of the stadium also offers a unique elevator ride to the very top directly over the pitch (see photo), with sweeping views of the city, countryside and ocean. The hosting of next year’s FIFA World Cup will bring the spotlight of the world to this country, and the citizens are excited to show off its passion for great sport.
Back in Johannesburg, Why Sport Matters headed to cricket grounds in Pretoria to catch Day 4 of England’s first of four tests with South Africa. It was a brilliant summer day down here in the southern hemisphere, with the spectators making their own BBQ (braai to the locals) in the lawn while the players break for “tea” at midday to refuel for the afternoon! We took the occasion to speak with Jeremy Fredericks, a prominent cricket and rugby TV broadcaster, who gave Why Sport Matters more insight into this game and what it means to South African culture.
The countdown is on for next year’s FIFA World Cup — and the country of South Africa is feeling the attention. Why Sport Matters is dedicating a longer time than usual to explore this great country, and discover more about what sport means as well as the impact that the football World Cup is having here. We are down at the southern end of Africa for the entire month of December and spending time in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.
In order to understand South Africa, you must begin to appreciate the social and historical complexities of race relations and the impact of the apartheid era. The sport culture here is extremely rich and it is an interesting reflection and commentary of South African society. The big three sports are football, rugby and cricket. Having already hosted world cups in rugby (1995) and cricket (2003), the biggest tournament of all is coming here in 2010 as South Africa plays host to the FIFA football World Cup in June.