With the excitement and tension in South Africa building for the kick off of the 2010 World Cup, the biggest question on everyone’s lips is: can they make this work? And the answer being shouted from everyone’s hearts in South Africa is: “YES, WE CAN!”.
There is a weight of expectation not only on the national soccer team, Bafana-Bafana (which means: “The Boys, the Boys”), but also on the local organising committees, the stadia, the security forces, the transport systems and the South African population as a whole. The country wants the world to see South Africans as they really are: a warm, friendly, hospitable and sociable people who love visitors and each other. And there has been a groundswell of patriotism and support for the event that has not been felt since South Africa first won the Rugby World Cup in 1995, with Nelson Mandela holding aloft the coveted trophy before a nation bursting with pride!
Today we interviewed Craig Leith of the IALC English language school in Cape Town, Good Hope Studies, to find out more about this exciting time for the country and how it feels to be in the spotlight once again:
Q: Hello Craig, it must be a great feeling to know the world’s audience will shortly be focussing on South Africa. What was the reaction like when the country was handed the gift of being the World Cup host nation?
A: The reality is that we have been waiting 10 years for this, after Germany was awarded the 2006 world cup in 2000, so it was a VERY long time coming! The reaction across the country was one of immense pride and joy to finally have the chance to show the rest of the world what South Africa, and indeed the whole of Africa, could accomplish. It was and is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase our beautiful country alongside the beautiful game.
Q: Despite the reservations in the press about whether the construction projects would be completed in time for June 11th, the new stadia have been built and the infrastructure looks in place. How close a call was it?
A: The press has never been our best friend or strongest supporter. There is an attitude that says Africa is still the “Dark Continent” and nothing good can ever come out of it. But they have been wrong, as they have been wrong so many times in the past. Yes, we wondered if it would all be ready on time, and the naysayers said it would never happen. The truth is that things have gone even better than we could have imagined: the stadia, which were all completed within the allotted schedule, are truly world-class and some have already been touted as being amongst the best on the planet; the infrastructure is largely complete, with the foremost of these being the multi-million dollar upgrades to international airports and a brand new airport built from scratch in Durban. There are a few finishing touches still being completed, but by and large, everything was done that needed to be done – with time to spare.
Q: What’s the atmosphere in school been like in the run up to the World Cup?
A: Amazing. As a school, we are trying to pass the spirit and vibe of 1995 on to our students. We want them to feel the joy of our country as we build up to this auspicious event
Q: Have you dressed the school up for the World Cup?
A: We have specially decorated all our reception areas with World Cup decor and the flags of participating countries.
Q: Q: How have the students been getting into the spirit of the tournament?
A: For the last few weeks every Friday has been Soccer Friday and everyone is encouraged to come to school wearing their team’s soccer jersey or colours.
For the duration of the tournament, students will wear the colours of their team or country as often as possible, but particular on match days.
Q: Any other special World Cup activities for students?
A: International food days: Students will bring a dish from their country to share with the whole school. Good Hope Studies will be providing a traditional braai (barbeque) and serving boerewors (a spicy farmer’s sausage)
Q: Won’t the World Cup live matches clash with the lessons?
A: Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on which way you look at it) none of the games are being played during class times, so this means that students will either be able to watch the games live at the Cape Town Stadium, at the fan parks around the city, or at one of the many pubs and restaurants close to the campuses which will be broadcasting the games. Many teachers are arranging to watch the games together with their classes and there are sure to be many such classes who will watch together as a larger group
Q: The World Cup could be a distraction though. How will you be dealing with this?
A: During the next four weeks, the teaching themes for all classes will be 2010 World Cup (what else could it possibly be??), so I am sure there will be many lively debates around soccer in general and the tournament in particular!
Interviewer: Sounds like a great idea. Thank you Craig and enjoy the World Cup party!
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Good Hope Studies English language school