As Cape Town played host to the Semi Final clash between the Netherlands and Uruguay on Tuesday night, the city bid farewell to its World Cup journey. For the city residents, it has been a memorable month that will live with them long after the tournament.
“The vibe has been awesome, absolutely awesome,” said Steven Fleck who was attending his second game at the stadium. “It was wonderful to be part of it. Having all the people here from different parts of the world, and having them see the country and see Cape Town was the most exciting for me.”
“I think the World Cup has exposed Cape Town to the world. It’s dispelled rumours about how unsafe it is and shown what a beautiful city we live in,” said Fleck’s wife, Tracy, who particularly enjoyed the fan mile experience. “It’s incredible seeing people from all over the world being united, being excited and sharing the same goal,” she explained, referring to the path that fans have used in Cape Town, taking them from the FIFA Fan Fest at the Grand Parade all the way to the stadium.
Shira Zabikov agrees, “the fan walk is incredible. What’s nice about it compared to the other cities is it allows the whole city to be involved in the games as well – everyone can get involved and it’s great.”
The Cape Town fan walk has been one of the major successes of this tournament, providing a festive walk to the stadium for match goers but also a meeting point for all of the city’s fans to truly experience the World Cup vibe. On Tuesday night’s Semi Final alone, 149,000 people moved through the fan walk while the FIFA Fan Fest at the nearby Grand Parade broke records with 49,000 people gathering to watch the match on the giant screen.
Dotted by booths manned by various vendors selling everything from boerewors (sausage) rolls to vuvuzelas it has become a place for fans to gather before the start of World Cup matches with an array of restaurants leaving fans with a number of gastronomical choices.
“The Fan Walk went from a pedestrian route to an emotional experience, “ said City of Cape Town spokesman Pieter Cronje. “It became a defining feature of the of the World Cup experience in Cape Town. More than half a million people have strolled amongst colourful happy fans, embraced the music, local eats, drinks, performers, made new friends and bumped into old ones. Residents treated it as their latest tourists feature and visitors thronged against the backdrop of Table Mountain and the city skyline,” he added.
Along with the 149,000 other fans using the fan walk on Tuesday night was a surprise visitor – Organising Committee CEO, Dr Danny Jordaan, who opted for the popular route to the stadium.
Greeted by cries of “thank you” and “well done Danny”, as he walked toward Green Point stadium for the last World Cup match there, Jordaan took the opportunity to thank the people of Cape Town for their support.
“I want to thank the people of Cape Town for being so incredible. They have contributed to South Africa being such an incredible host. I think they are going to wake up tomorrow morning and think to themselves, now what are we going to do?
But it is also the stadium that has wowed locals and visitors a like – both of who are sad that the Semi Final was the last match in the magnificent structure which was filled to a capacity of 62,479 fans.
“It’s beautiful. I’ve been to the one in Johannesburg as well and they’re very different. This one’s very modern – the wave-like structure fits in well with Cape Town,” said Zabikov
“The stadium is unbelievable – the whole atmosphere is absolutely electric,” added Ryan Wilson.
Marijcke Dodds said she felt ‘incredibly sad’ at the prospect of the World Cup coming to an end. “I’ll miss the mix of people and the sense of community.”
But whilst Cape Town bids farewell to the tournament, the final match at Green Point stadium signaled the beginning of the World Cup journey for many foreigners.
“I’ve only been in the country for five hours,” said Barry Mcdowell of Ireland, who undertook a forty hour journey with his friends, Ryan and Amanda Wilson, to watch the two semi finals live. “So far the vibe in Cape Town has been absolutely fantastic - all the different cultures from all around the world, there’s no trouble, everybody’s family, everybody’s happy. That’s the way the world should be.”