With the kick-off of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ just around the corner, South Africa’s fans are getting ready. With most having purchased their tickets, all of the country’s ardent football supporters are relishing the home tournament as they get ready for the biggest football feast of their lives.
Gavin Emes is an online sales manager in Johannesburg, and has been a football fan since his birth. “ I am an ardent supporter of Manchester United, a passionate English supporter and an increasingly confident Bafana Bafana fan.”
Emes' enthusiasm for the English team revolves around their star striker, Wayne Rooney. “He is England’s talisman and the team is structured around him.”
What brought Emes and Rooney together? “It was his exceptional ability at such a young age, he was the youngest player to appear in the premiership at the time and I really respected what he achieved.”
Like so many local football fans, Emes appreciates that the World Cup offers his country a unique opportunity. “I cannot imagine a more poignant moment for South Africa than to host a World Cup. We are a young democracy and the kind of positivity such an event can bring to the people of this country will last for years beyond the tournament itself. It will make us all brothers again,” said Emmes who will be following the English World Cup campaign which kicks off on 12 June against the USA in Rustenburg
Eleph Gula-Ndebele's first love is football, and after playing for his University’s men's first team, the FIFA World Cup on home soil is the next best thing. “I believe it is a great opportunity for us as Africans to showcase our diversity.”
He might play for South Africa’s big rivals in Group A, but Thierry Henry is a player that Gula-Ndebele will be keeping an eye on. “I've been a fan of Thierry Henry for nine years, he is the perfect footballer, quick, skilfull, elegant in his play and just a joy to watch.”
Another passionate supporter of the French striker, there is not much Simphiwe Mthethwa wouldn't do to meet him. “I'd give one of my siblings, just kidding, but probably a toe. I am fan because he plays poetic football. You just have to watch him play once and you will understand,” she said. Like all South Africans, Mthethwa will have the chance to see Henry and the French team open their World Cup account on 11 June at Green Point stadium but it is their match against South Africa on 22 June in Mangaung/Bloemfontein that will have everyone talking.
Reno Christodoulou has been following the progress of his footballing hero, Ivorian striker Didier Drogba, who’s team will be facing the likes of Brazil and Portugal during the World Cup. “He is awesome, from his care-free attitude to his unrivalled goal scoring ability on the pitch, he knows what he wants and goes out and gets it. Off the field he contributes to charity and to the people of his country. He inspires me to achieve my best and fight to get there.”
“I haven't played football since I was at school,” says Morris Ndebele, a 43-year-old working in Johannesburg. “Football is a high entertainment sport, and it brings people together. When you watch a game it takes you out of things, gives you a break, watching it at home or in the stadium, and that's why I love it.”
The African Cup of Nations has given Ndebele a preview of his favourite player in his national colours. “I've liked Eto'o since I first saw him play, but there have been many players I have loved over the years. He has got a heart made for soccer, he plays with real dedication and it will be great to have him here, at home, during the World Cup.”
At 24-years-old Rekaselebale Borole is a seasoned football veteran. With his favourite player, Michael Essien, recently injured in an African Cup of Nations clash, Borole is undeterred in his excitement for the World Cup. “Essien is highly underrated, it is his skill and hard work that I appreciate. The World Cup will bring a level of appreciation from the rest of the world with regards to the contribution being made by African players on world football.”
Which fixture is getting Borole's football heart pounding ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup? “The opening match. I can't wait to be at Soccer city”