Right. In about 96 hours time, 94,700 crazy people will be frenzying around inside the illuminated calabash that is Johannesburg’s Soccer City as South Africa and Mexico light the wick of the fizz-pop fandango that is to be the 2010 World Cup.
And stretching across every country on our globe, billions will crane their necks to get the best view possible of the opening match. They will see many things on Saturday night… and one view may be this visual treat…
No, we quite like it. Not as aesthetically gorgeous as Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium, perhaps, but it’ll do. Fine. So the globe is going to get to see a lot of Jo’burg, Durbs and Cape Town. And maybe a bit more of Bloemfontein and Rustenburg than they would bargain for. But what of South Africa’s small towns, verdant-valleyed villages and rusty-hued hamlets, secreted away behind mountains and filed away, collecting dust, in corners of deserts?
Well, what of them? Are there flags flying in their rutted main roads? Are there rainbow-razzmatazz mirror socks being worn by their donkey-carts? Well? I think, if you wandered into the Karoo today, you’d get a big surprise. And I have another surprise for you.
If you drove out of Cape Town on the R43 tomorrow, bounced over Sir Lowry’s Pass and snaked past the whale-watchers’ paradise of Hermanus, you would – after two hours or so – come across a sumptuous Overberg village that goes by the name of Stanford. You would have to look out for it because you could easily miss it. As many poor, unsuspecting travellers do. But if you catch sight of the Sir Robert Stanford wine estate and you started to slow down next to the Syringa Kennels, you would notice the entrance to the town.
Continue for 250 metres or so down Queen Victoria Street, the main drag, and you will stumble upon this…
Yes, that’s our green (well, it’ll be greener after the winter rains). A lot of things happen on this village green. Cricket, horse races, sunset markets, biggest pumpkin competitions… but mostly ladies walking their dogs after a satisfactory afternoon tea. And, I have discovered, it’s a great place to lie on one’s back and stargaze after a hefty night down the pub.
Unlike those crammed into Soccer City this weekend, we won’t be seeing any stars on the field. But we’re doing the best we can. Folks, roll up… roll up to the Overstrand Rainbow Five-a-side Soccer Extravaganza. Our village green will be transformed into a mini-football fest with local teams puffing about, trying to settle old scores, market stalls, coaching clinics… and probably one or two ladies pretending not to notice while walking the dog after yet another highly satisfactory cream tea.
Yes, that’s how we roll in quaint, beautiful Stanford, one of the finest preserved Victorian villages in the fairest Cape. But roll we do. The media will be there to document the festivities. Not Sky Sports or the London Guardian or ESPN or the New York Times. But the Stanford River Talk, the Hermanus Times, Whale Talk Magazine, Whale Coast 96.5fm, the Fasttrax Marine film company and the Fijn Bush Telegraph will be reporting on our main World Cup event, so that people tending to their farms in even more isolated parts of our little piece of the world will learn of it.
Here is the authentic heartbeat of our great country, tiny specks on the map which will not see the likes of Messi, Rooney and Kaka in the flesh. But we will have fun anyway. And the proceeds of our fun will go to the Hermanus Trust, a local educational and social NGO, and the benefits will be felt long after the last ball is kicked.
Local businesses taking part are, among others, La Finestra Restaurant, Stanford Hills Estate, Pam Golding (Stanford), Stanford River Talk, Gypseys Restaurant and Birkenhead Brewery. the first match kicks off at 9am on Friday, June 11 with the final being played on Saturday, June 12. A floating trophy will be presented to the winning team.
So to those fortunate enough to watch Steven Pienaar split the Mexican defence with an inch-perfect pass for Katlego Mphela on Saturday, we Stanfordians say: “Give them horns, guys!” And, we solemnly promise, if we spot a new Steven Pienaar in the making on our village green this weekend, we’ll start grooming him for the 2018 World Cup. Ayoba!