I can feel it â€“ it is here! I live in Johannesburg â€“ the centre of the FIFA World Cup 2010 where this year's most exciting soccer (otherwise known as football) matches, will be played. Even I, who am not a football fan, have been affected with it. I have tickets to four of the matches which were purchased last year already. My six-year old daughter is suddenly a football fan too.
I can see the stadium where the FIFA World Cup 2010 finals will be played from my street. Football fever is on TV during every commercial break, it's in every newspaper and magazine. It's on my Facebook page every day. It's the main topic of conversation everywhere I go. There is chaos at the ticketing centres every time a new round of ticket sales opens â€“ yes, there are still some tickets available. Everyone is singing the catchy K'naan song â€“ "When I get older, they'll call me freedom, Just like a Waving Flag". Businesses, large corporates and small stalls, have all been draped in the flags of all the nations that will be participating. Residential buildings have also been similarly adorned. Restaurants are all offering football specials. Our everyday groceries have been branded with football promotions. Every Friday for the past few months has been "Football Friday" where everybody wears their football gear to work, school, university or even just at home.
The shopping centres are full of football gear and South African souvenirs â€“ the genuine FIFA â€“ approved items and of course, the cheaper counterfeit stuff as well, which the police are trying to clamp down on. Almost every car on the street has a patriotic South African flag or side mirror cover although the odd car does sport a flag of one of the other countries, most often Italy, Germany or Brazil. Most people are wearing South African football T-shirts â€“ from the youngest babies to the oldest grandfathers. We are gripped with football fever. More importantly, we have forgotten our past prejudices and history and have united as one patriotic rainbow nation, even if just for the duration of the World Cup. Most of us are supporting Bafana Bafana, our national team, even though we don't have much hope of them winning the trophy.
Thirty-two teams will be participating in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Many of the teams have started arriving. They will be staying at the some of the best hotels and tourist accommodation in South Africa. The airports are crowded with people wanting to catch a glimpse of their favourite teams and their favourite players. The "friendly matches" are in progress. Every friendly match is a sold-out match. The vuvuzelas are so loud I can hear them from my house. My small kids have to sport their favourite football teams' gear every Friday, even though they normally wear a uniform. They were taken to Soccer City in Johannesburg, the venue for the FIFA World Cup 2010 finals, for their school excursion.
Everyone is dancing the "diski dance" a dance created just for the World Cup. The Diski Dance, the signature dance of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, is now more popular than ever. It was launched last year before the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009. In the build-up to the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 the dance was performed at virtually every major sporting event held. It was also performed for those attending the World Cup Final Draw in Cape Town in December last year. Since the Confederations Cup, the dance has become very well-publicised, and can now be found virtually everywhere online- exactly what the organisers were hoping for. The global Manager of Events at South Africa Tourism, Sugen Pillay, last year stated that when foreigners arrive on our shores later this year he wants them to already know how to do the dance. There is an official website tied in to SA Tourism devoted entirely to the dance â€“ www.Learntodiski.com. On this site one can see viral internet dancer Matt Harding, who was brought to South Africa and given a crash-course in the Diski Dance. Matt dances his way from Cape Town to Johannesburg and everywhere in between. The site is even running a competition whereby the public can send in the video of themselves busting their best moves and win a trip to the World Cup. A search on YouTube gives multiple results of other Diski Dance videos.
Ten stunning stadiums have been constructed around the country and are ready to welcome the world: two in Johannesburg and the others in Pretoria, Nelspruit, Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Rustenburg, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane. There are plenty of things to do between matches. There are great attractions in each city and province and there will be wonderful entertainment line-ups too. Everyone is bound to be kept happy.
The inaugural FIFA World Cup Kick-Off Celebration Concert will feature Alicia Keys, Amadou & Mariam, AngÃ©lique Kidjo, Black Eyed Peas, BLK JKS, John Legend, Juanes, Shakira, The Parlotones, Tinariwen, Vieux Farka TourÃ© and Vusi Mahlasela at Orlando Stadium in Soweto/Johannesburg on the eve of the opening match of the first FIFA World Cup on African soil. Emmy Award-winning producer Kevin Wall and his company Control Room will organise and produce the concert. There will also be appearances by past and present football legends and celebrities from other fields. This historic event will take place in front of a capacity stadium audience of 30,000 will be broadcast to hundreds of millions more worldwide and is scheduled to begin at 20.00 local time (GMT+2) on 10 June. All net proceeds from the concert will be donated to the Twenty Centres for 2010, the Official Campaign of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, whose aim is to achieve positive social change through football by building 20 centres across Africa offering education and healthcare services as well as football training to disadvantaged communities. Tickets for this once-in-a-lifetime concert can be purchased online at www.computicket.com.
I am living the World Cup right here, right now. The atmosphere is electric! Wish you were here!