In a splendid display of patriotism, Australian and German fans began their World Cup tour in South Africa on high, making the most of the brilliant weather to soak up the atmosphere at the beachside FIFA Fan Fest before heading to the stadium for the ultimate finale to the weekend.
The unique 350m long arch, a staggering 106m above the pitch, was the perfect backdrop for a crowd that was almost as energetic as their teams were on the field. Said Socceroos supporter Alex Brown: “The stadium is like a modern day coliseum. In fact, on our way here, we thought there was a pre-match taking place because of the noise and vibe. I live in England now and believe me, I want to move to South Africa“.
“It couldn’t get any better,” says Durbanite Andrew Smith, “The people are turning this event into not just a World Cup, but a world phenomenon.”
Where in Germany it was ‘a time to make friends’, in South Africa, the Durban opening match resonated the World Cup theme of welcoming the world home.
“South Africa is definitely the place to be. I was born in Germany, but I live here now. I’m glad I chose to come here because the World Cup is in my back yard. It’s just incredible.” said Justin Luckern.
When asked what she would say to South Africans living overseas, Bafana Bafana supporter Liverne Marai says she would simply say: “It’s awesome. Come home, visit your friends and family, and then stay.”
Times have changed, and for the positive, said pensioners Madelyn and Ken Gordon, inquisitively taking in the vibe on the beachfront: “It would be nice if we stopped hearing South Africans saying they are going to Perth, and for Australians to say ‘we are coming to South Africa.”
For many of the German supporters, being at the World Cup brought back memories of the 2006 tournament in Germany, but this time, with an obvious and distinct African flavour. “This World Cup has more energy, if Germany hosts it again, I will buy all my family vuvuzelas,” promised visiting German fan Mikell Hermann.