In March 2008 *MPear11 *and his predictor partner discovered that they had won the maiden season of FIFA World Leagues Predictor. The Grand Prize was a trip for two to Africa’s first FIFA World Cup™. Fast-forward two years and the Canadian predictor is sitting in Johannesburg’s Nelson Mandela Square, surrounded by fans from all over the world, swept up in FIFA World Cup fever and talking to FIFA.com.
FIFA.com: You won the prize some time ago. When did you start to get really excited to come to South Africa?
MPear11: Probably in January this year, after the draws were done and we were able to select the game we wanted to see and plan our trip.
When you first found out you won a trip to the 2010 FIFA World Cup what was the first thing you did?
JJ and I looked at each other and we didn’t believe what had happened. We were at work and we were both in a ‘did that actually just happen’ daze. Then the congratulations emails started rolling in and we realised that we were going to South Africa!
Of all the group stage games you chose to watch England-USA. What did you think of the match?
That was a great game. I thought the English controlled the play a little bit but the Americans had a really strong defence and it was good to see USA pull out a draw. In terms of growing the game I think that was kind of a necessary step for USA to take.
What was the atmosphere in Rustenburg like?
The atmosphere was unbelievable. It was wide-open; it was loud; it was exciting and it was a lot of fun.
Have you been to any other matches in South Africa?
We went to Chile-Honduras in Nelspruit at Mbombela Stadium and we went down to Durban, to the Moses Mabhida Stadium, and saw Netherlands-Japan. Both were good matches. Moses Mabhida is the best stadium on the planet.
Who have you been travelling with?My friend JJ, who won the trip with me, and his wife. The three of us have been traveling the country together. It’s amazing how many Canadians are actually here. We’ve run into Canadians at every single game!
What has been your biggest highlight of the trip so far?
Besides the England-USA game, we have done a few tours. We went into the Kruger Park which was phenomenal and we also did the Sani Pass tour into Lesotho - and of course being at the games, wearing a Canadian flag, meeting all the Canadians - that was so much fun. It’s been a blast.
How would you describe the atmosphere in South Africa right now for people back home?
Friendly, fun and exciting. When Bafana Bafana was playing the vuvuzelas were going off everywhere. We got off the plane in the middle of the South Africa-Mexico match and it was crazy how everybody was focused on the game. When SA scored the place exploded with excitement. It was so insane with those vuvuzelas.
Everyone’s talking about the vuvuzela, what is your verdict?
I experienced it for the first time when I got here and I still can’t really hear straight! I’m all for it though. People get to express themselves; it’s an inexpensive way to get behind the game and cheer loud. I think its fantastic.
Have you had any friends asking you to bring vuvuzelas home?
Yes! I’ve got a couple. There are so many things that you can find here. I’ve got a lot of stuff I’m taking back.
From a Predictor standpoint, what have you thought of this tournament?Unpredictable. Italy-New Zealand, who would have ever predicted New Zealand to draw that game. Germany losing to Serbia; it’s been an unpredictable World Cup. Whoever has got it right so far, well done.
What do you think of the FIFA World Leagues Predictor game?
I like the fact that the selected matches are from around the world. I like the whole idea: that you have to know football to win this game and you have to know the teams and you have to know the history of the teams. I appreciated the game because I learnt more about the global sport. I think it made me a better fan.