The Soccer City Experience

2010-06-14 07:17
The drive from the Park & Ride facility was jovial and festive. South Africans came out in their droves donning their flags, Bafana Bafana jerseys and carrying their vuvuzelas as if to war.

We reached the peak of the small bridge that crescents the railway line, and there it was, in all it splendour.  We’d seen the photos and the inserts in the news, but seeing Soccer City for the first time, first hand, is a breathtaking sight to behold - a mammoth 94 000-seater wonder of the African continent.

An endless sea of yellow warriors swarmed around the grounds, streaming in, in their thousands.  The sounds of war horns – the vuvuzelas – rang out constantly and the air was filled with electric excitement as the much anticipated FIFA 2010 SWC kick-off drew closer.

The sharp rays of Africa sun cut through the morning haze and warmed our faces as we climbed several stairs and walked through one of the many entrances into the inner stadium.  The warm glow of tens of thousands of orange seats and the sheer wonder of the completed stadium, gave us a tremendous feeling of national pride.  We stood mesmerised by the sheer magnitude and marvelled at this architectural masterpiece which is Soccer City.

We sat in our seats and soaked up the atmosphere, then headed back outside to join the masses as the vuvuzelas continued to ring out across the African sky.  The Mexican supporters were both gracious and friendly as football supporters from two different nations, and continents, exchanged greetings, photographs and friendly sporting banter.

It's 2pm. We're back in our seats we sat in anticipation as the opening ceremony began.  South Africa displayed its rich culture and warmth to the world as the planet watched.  The crowds roared and cheered, tears of pride welled in our eyes, and jets thundered overhead as the rhythms of Africa pulsated across the world’s television networks.

The game was electrifying.  Groups of Mexican supporters chanted their songs and spun their noisy rattles (matracas) only to be drowned out by the response of many more South Africans as our trumpeting vuvuzelas blasted their rattles into silence.

Soccer City exploded as Siphiwe Tshabalala’s absolute cracker landed in the back of the net.  In that very moment, South Africa was victorious, we’d shown the world that we could do it, that this moment was ours, and that our time had come.  Although the game ended in a draw, South Africa had achieved what many believed to be impossible.  We’d put on a show for the world that they will never forget.  We did it South Africa, we pulled it off when so many said we wouldn’t.

I sincerely hope our team can progress further in this tournament.  Either way, our country is once again united and it’s an incredible feeling to be a part of it.

My experience of the FIFA 2010 SWC opening game, and of Soccer City itself, can be summed up in one word.  


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