Birgit Ottermann It all started with me being dragged along to the opening of the Cape Town Soccer Stadium. Anyone who knows me at all, will be acutely aware of the fact that I know very little about sport, let alone soccer. But curiosity got the better of me, as was the chance of making history, by being part of the very first crowd to experience Cape Town’s brilliant new stadium.
So there I was, sitting on a brand new bus, being shuttled towards a brand new stadium, Lucas Radebe and the experience of a lifetime.
From the moment I stepped onto the bus, I could feel the electricity in the air. Santos and Ajax Cape Town fans wearing their T-shirts and waving flags; and people cheering and trying out their vuvuzelas. Yes, people. Vuvuzelas. And no, it’s not noise. It’s music. It’s soccer music and it’s fun. But, more about that later.
What an eye opening experience when I entered the huge stadium the first time....I could have been anywhere in the world. What struck me was how very spacious everything was and how truly beautiful the actual building was with its clean and graceful lines. I joined thousands of visitors who hauled out their cellphones for a quick snapshot of themselves in front of the stadium (quite a difficult pic to take, mind you!) in what could only be described as a Proudly South African moment.
As soon as I took my seat (which was surprisingly comfortable, by the way) I realised again that it’s the people that really make an event. The crowd of 20 000 spectators were all in a state of euphoria. There were people from all walks of life, old, young, rich, poor, black, coloured and white. And the energy was awesome. “We was THERE!”
While Freshlyground entertained the crowds before the start of the match, I got a beginner soccer lesson from my very patient neighbour (who quickly confessed: I’m actually an Orlando Pirates fan, but I’m here for the atmosphere) whereas the guy sitting next to my hubby quickly organised a vuvuzela for me.
By the time the soccer match started I managed to get out one squeaky sound (in between an impressive series of 5 Mexican waves that went around the stadium). You see, contrary to popular belief, it actually is NOT that easy to play the vuvuzela, it takes a very special skill. In short, as soon as it feels as if your head and sinuses are going to explode, then you’re starting to get it right. I can now proudly call myself a vuvuzela initiate - I managed to make some really impressive noise by the end of the game. Believe me, 90 minutes of soccer is enough to teach you the basics!
And no, I never needed to use my ear plugs (which, sadly yes, I had packed) because the non-stop vuvuzela noise that you hear on TV, is actually the sum of thousands of people playing their vuvuzelas intermittently, creating what I would like to call “beautiful soccer harmony”.
In the midst of all this, Miss Pirates Soccer fan, sitting next to me, spotted even more beauty...in the form of Lucas Radebe...he was sitting only a few metres from me, and suddenly the new stadium, soccer and my poor hubby were fading in the background. Yes, the man is even sexier in real life.
I grabbed my vuvuzela and joined the fast growing queue to meet my hero. Like the soccer legend that he is (well, even I knew who he was), he charmed everyone around him and was the perfect FIFA ambassador. And then my special moment came. He turned to me, asked my name and gave me the most beautiful smile. And that’s when Lucas Radebe signed my vuvuzela.
(Oh, and if you want to know what happened in the actual soccer game: Well, Santos beat Ajax Cape Town 6-5, after a very exciting penalty shoot-out and sudden death-thingy, or something. Hey, not bad vocabulary for a soccer beginner, methinks.)
(Birgit Ottermann, Health24, January 2010)