Beckham lauds SA

LA Galaxy, AC Milan and England midfielder David Beckham is here in Cape Town for the World Cup Draw tomorrow evening and took time out of his busy schedule with FIFA to give an interview to… FIFA. Unsurprisingly, (for all the reasons you are thinking of, be they contractual or otherwise) he seems happy to be here:

When I was last here with England, I had the honour of meeting Nelson Mandela. That was the highlight of my career; to meet such a great man and a strong man and such a passionate man about sport and life will always stay with me. Then I played in the game and broke my arm! South Africa is such a great country and a sporting nation that deserves this World Cup. I think it will be a very memorable and special one.

And on Cape Town’s preparations for 2010:

When you visit the country that a tournament is being held in before the event, you get a special feeling. As the time approaches, you notice that feeling intensify. As soon as I landed here in Cape Town, I noticed changes in the roads, as well as new hotels and it seemed as though the people’s excitement was tangible. There’s no better feeling than that.

And he’s right. I’m beginning to notice that projects are nearing their end. The N2 is almost quite wide again. The N1 is really wide. I was at the airport last night and was astounded at the progress that has been made. The Stadium handover is only a few days away. My study is built and has a great view from the window.
As for the vibe – I mentioned it here – you just know that there is something very special going on right now. And if this is what it’s like for some balls being taken out of goldfish bowls, then I can only begin to imagine what next June is going to be like. Aside from greyer and damper, obviously. But it will be party time in the rain, believe me.

There are those who were fine with the road closures for their private party, but who are bitching about other people having fun; complaining about the security and the hugely busy CBD, moaning about the helicopters flying over the City Bowl; but they just don’t get it. This is big. Bigger than a little awards ceremony, bigger than your beloved rugby, bigger even than the end of Apartheid, according to some people in the know. Sure, you’ve never seen anything like it and you don’t want to be part of it, but doing your best to justify that decision while those around you are being swayed by the feeling is really not pretty.

Lucky

AIDS-ribbon

I don’t want to come over all gushy and emotional here, but I have just been into town (more specifically the Waterfront and Green Point) and there is an unbelievable vibe in the Mother City right now. I feel so lucky to be here and be a part of it.

The combination of the start of summer, World AIDS Day and the FIFA World Cup draw has really got people into the party spirit and the Waterfront is absolutely pumping. It seems like everyone has a smile on their face and is happy to be here and that makes for a wonderful atmosphere.

There were dancing girls (and boys), Sugarsmax and Slikour from Skwatta Kamp, a giant Coca-Cola makaraba, a plethora of Zakumis, life-size foosball, huge footballs from World Cups since 1970 and a Sony-sponsored 5-a-side tournament. Even by Waterfront standards, that’s a lot going on.
I could hardly keep up and I had to go and hide in a local lab until the excess of adrenaline had left my body. Fortunately, it didn’t take long before the shaking subsided and the people stopped staring.

I was rushing around, but still managed a few shots here and there. You can find them all here. I have a feeling that this vibe is going to continue throughout the week – and hopefully onwards towards the World Cup. I’ll definitely be out and about snapping as and when I can, so don’t forget to come back and check regularly.

El Clássico

Some of you may be thankful to hear that there won’t be a huge amount from me here this evening. It’s been another busy day chez 6000 and I’m all on for for watching Barcelona and Real Madrid kick chunks out of each other in a short while. I love watching the big games and there’s probably none bigger than El Clássico. One day I will go to Spain and watch it live, but until that time, channel 203 will just have to suffice. If it is anything like as exciting as United’s game at Bristol City yesterday (we won 3-2, equaliser scored on 90+5 minutes, winner scored on 90+6, 10 yellow cards and a partridge in a pear tree) then I will be more than happy.

Earlier in the day, we watched a billion motorcycles ride past on the annual Cape Town Charity Toy Run, which passes close to our road every November. Alex – who is fortunate to be blessed with far too many teddy bears and cuddly stuff – donated several of his toys to the charity by giving them to the bikers as they passed by and as you can see by the photos here and here, he certainly wasn’t the only one. What an amazing effort. Also see my Toy Run 2009 Flickr Set

After my success earlier in the day with getting my daughter to sleep (despite the continuing roar of the passing motorcycles), I was entrusted with putting her to bed this evening. Things didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped and I had to switch to Plan B early on. Plan B wasn’t actually that great either and I didn’t have a Plan C. I ended up running through a  few more plans that I made up as I went along but lost count somewhere around L.
That, if nothing else, explains why she is going to be watching the Spanish footy with me now. Enjoy!

The FIFA World Cup draw – a warning

Let the moaning begin. Eh?
But yes, because Cape Town is going to be hosting the World Cup 2010 draw on Friday 4th December and there’s going to be a party. And they’re going to shut a few roads to make sure that the partygoers don’t get flattened by… you know… cars and stuff.

There’s a full and comprehensive list of road closures, including times here and there are sure to be some people moaning about the traffic despite the fact that they’ve had adequate warning via the radio, newspapers and internet. And despite the fact that these roads are regularly closed when there are large conferences at the CTICC. And despite the fact that no-one in their right mind would try to drive up Long Street on a Friday afternoon or evening.
Some people are just like that.

The traffic is just the tip of the iceberg though. Some people are still in denial about the whole World Cup thing and they’re going to go out of their way (with the help of the sensationalist SA media and the Daily Mail) to publicise every little bit of negativity that they can possibly find in glaringly bright lights. And with an estimated 700 million viewers fixing their eyes on Cape Town next week, they’ve got their first little platform ready and waiting.

This should be a celebration – and it will be. The World Cup will bring jobs, people, infrastructure and money into South Africa. But possibly worth more than all those put together, it will bring publicity. And publicity can swing either way.
It’s like that, is publicity, flip-flopping between sides like Allan Boesak.
There is, of course, that age old saying that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”, but that’s complete bullshit. Try telling that to Gary Glitter or… well… Allan Boesak.
While this is a huge opportunity for South Africa, it is sadly also a huge opportunity for those that seek to derail the good things that are happening in this country and the hope that goes with them. I’m talking about the racists, the ex-pats, the union leaders and those who put their own selfish agendas in front of the good of the country. They too will be watching the draw next Friday, but for different reasons to you and I. They will be looking to pounce on anything that is not 110% perfect; be it the traffic, the TV production, the pre-draw entertainment or the weather.
Whatever they can find to dampen the celebration, they will use.

It’s sad that I feel this way, but I think that it is important that someone gets this message out there before the mis- and dis-information spreads its way out across the media. Simply put, you can fully expect the usual situation of the media over-reporting the negative aspects of life in South Africa to be concentrated while the World Cup is on. (And that includes the World Cup draw). Every incident of pickpocketing, poor organisation, drunken fist-fighting, overfilled buses or littering (ok, maybe not littering) will be documented and analysed in minute detail under evocative and exceptionalist headlines. Believe it, because it’s true.

Whatever happens, it is vitally important for South Africa that the optimism and the positive vibe that surrounds the World Cup is not drowned out by the small but vociferous minorities that want to drag this country down. So go and enjoy yourselves, have fun. And take photos and blog it, because that’s exactly what they’ll be doing for the other side.

As for me, I’m planning to leave my comfort zone of Southern Suburbia and take my Dad into town to join the chaos party on Long Street.
Can I, as they say, get a woop woop?!? (Oh, and England picked as team C1? Thanks.)

P.S. I just updated this with some amazing video. Go see.

Hard to work

It is quite difficult to get stuff done when you have this view from your study window.

The TV mast not only provides me with a TV signal, but also proves that I actually did a very good job of keeping the camera level.
Thanks for that.