From our intern…
Today was the first official day of the 2010 World Cup. As most of you should know the host country is South Africa. South Africa is the first African nation to host the World Cup. The country has spent a lot of money, time and resources into getting ready for all the visitors and international viewers that will be watching the games. To start the festivities there was a parade yesterday and today was the grand opening of the Fan Fest Center, which will be open everyday of the cup and will show the all the games live on the big screen. I went with the Beth Uriel boys and staff. The car ride there was amazing. I have video of the guys signing and celebrating on the car ride to the site. Once there we had to wait with hundreds of other people for the center to open at 11 am. All you could see were South African flags, yellow and gold, Bafana colors and vuvuzelas! Finally we were let in and we found a spot to listen to music and wait for the match to start. I wondered around the center and even bought some of my first gift purchases. They had food tents, bars, a huge stage, information centers; it was quite the set up. In every city where there is a stadium there is a fan fest center. All of the guys from Beth Uriel spilt up from the adults and did their own thing although we did see them periodically throughout the day.
Being at fan fest was such an out of body experience. And contrary to popular belief a lot of South Africans stayed at home and watched the game and festivities from the safety of their own home. There were a ton of foreigners at Fan Fest. Getting closer to 4 pm the excitement is building and then we are watching the beautiful opening ceremonies taking place at Soccer City in Johannesburg. There are loud screams when the South African team gets on the field. The country is so proud of its players. President Zuma gives his speech and starts the games and finally the match begins. I have never watched an entire soccer match before but I can tell you it may now be my favorite sport. I don’t know if it is World Cup fever but it was interesting from beginning to end, I could keep track of the ball and the players and it has a pretty hard intensity. When South Africa scored I thought the entire country burst out in cheers. Everyone started dancing, cheering, hooting their horns and celebrating the point. I was jumping around like I had lived there my whole life and knew what the game was about.
It was such an incredible honor to be a part of such a historic moment for South Africa and its people. South Africans know how amazing its country is, how naturally beautiful it is and how plentiful its resources can be. And now the rest of the world can share in that pride.