NOTE: This blog post has been entered into the Shine 2010 Foozi Blogger Challenge competition. First prize is a Foozi Table Football game machine thingy. It’s really really cool (see pic below post!). Should I win, I will donate the football game machine to Mr Dube, headmaster of Waterloo Primary School, a school for 6-12-year-olds at Waterloo township near my home town of Umdloti, KwaZulu-Natal North Coast, South Africa. When I say that these kids – who don’t have very much at all – will love it, I cannot begin to express how much they would love it! If you enjoyed reading this blog post, please vote for it by clicking on the button below and help me to win this for the kids! Thanks! SpreadtheloveofthebeautifulgamesaysFred
The Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban’s spanking-new World Cup 2010 venue, shimmered and sparkled around me. And embraced me in her vast yet comforting, almost motherly, bosom.
This most spectacular of South Africa’s new stadia was virtually deserted. A couple of construction workers were hammering away on the north side and a lone groundsman moved around among the sprinklers which energised the summer grass freshly laid on the playing surface.
I sat in a sunblessed stand to the south of the 50,000-seater football arena and sucked in the the newness, the beautifulness of what is already an iconic Durban landmark. I wondered at the many photographs I had seen of the stadium, how they did not do justice to the actual experience of being there.
A tour group shuffled past in silence and awe and I pretended not to notice them, staring instead in stupefaction at the flamboyance of the gargantuan arch which swoops like the hand of an orchestra conductor over what must be the most open-plan yet intimate sports stadium in which I have ever sat.
Having this architectural gem to myself was at once eerie and mesmerising. I fell into reverie. I began to imagine the first match to be played in this heart-palpitating place, AmaZulu vs Maritzburg United on November 28. What would it be like to have thousands of fanatical supporters around me, yelling and dancing and blowing vuvuzelas and, yes, the new kuduzelas? How Moses Mabhida Stadium would be transformed into the sporting crucible for which it is supremely designed.
My mind fast-forwarded to June 2010 and the lip-smacking prospect of watching the likes of Steven Gerrard, Kaka and Lionel Messi perform their wizardry right here in the middle of Durban. My eyes glistened and closed and then I was strangely transported beyond this to a day in 2019. It is the 25th anniversary of South Africa’s first democratic government and a tribute match is being played right here, right before my very eyes, in Durban’s World Cup stadium, now nine years old.
Moses Mabhida glowed bleach-white in the sub-tropical sunshine and the sky-sweeping arch continued to oversee the vibrancy and energy of our beautiful game. I was craning my head over the bouncing mass of the full-house crowd, trying to get a view of the world’s finest footballers celebrating the birth of the still-new South Africa. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was pure fantasy football.
Beckham swept down the right for the International All-Stars XI, shimmied past a lunging tackle by Linda Buthelezi, slipped a short ball inside to Alessandro del Piero and accelerated for the return pass. Which never came. Lucas Radebe had commandingly dispossessed the little Italian maestro and stroked the ball forward to Jomo Sono.
Many golden eras of football merged as one in the muggy heat of Durban and my mind was playing a game of its very own making. Sono took just two paces forward and stroked a pinpoint pass to Professor Ngubane. The Prof dummied the formidable attentions of Franz Beckenbauer and played a perfect ball into the path of Bobby Chalmers, rampaging forward. The nuggety former Durban City striker barely looked up before lambasting the ball past the flailing grasp of Lev Yashin, the despairing International All Stars XI goalkeeper.
The crowd went stark-raving mad. Overcome by it all, I lowered myself into my seat and again closed my eyes. I heard the piercing blast of the final whistle and then everything fell quiet. When I opened my eyes, I was sitting alone once more in the Moses Mabhida Stadium. There was no-one to be seen. Apart, that is, from a tall man who seemed to be swaying from side to side in a victory dance high up in the VIP suite.
I screwed up my eyes against the late afternoon sun and stared at him. It could have been just a strange and distorted reflection in the glass window but I swear that I saw Nelson Mandela, the first president and premier architect of the new South Africa, wearing that characteristic face-splitting smile and a Bafana Bafana shirt. It was as if he were expressing, for all the world to see, his warmest approval of everything positive that the post-2010 South Africa – and this great stadium – stood for.
NOTE: Please help me to win the game for the Waterloo schoolkids… click on the “Vote” button below and score your goal to help us win this big game! Thank you for playing, Fred
Here’s a snap of the football game machine that you could help to give to the Waterloo kids… please help me score this for them!