In 1886 George Harrison(not the singer) discovered gold on a farm called Langlaagtie and a tented town was quickly set up with thousands arriving on a quest for the precious metal. Now called Johannesburg it's in the smallest province of South Africa, GAUTENG- the Place of Gold.
I am in Nelson Mandela Square, in the heart of Sandton, well outside the dangers of Johannesburg, but a huge place of hotels, malls, restaurants, banks, and a large Convention Centre and site of SOCCEREX 2009, a soccer related get together and show. first there is a two day soccer five competition under the shadow of a huge gold statue of Nelson Mandela, the father of this nation.
The middle of next year the world will be focused on The rainbow nation as 32 national teams compete for the FIFA World Cup. The stadiums are ready, it will be much colder than the heat I am experiencing now in the southern summer, and hopefully the fans will arrive and be safe.
One sound everyone present and via television, will have to get used to is the distinctive sound of the VUVUZELA. Originally it was the horn of the Kudu antelope that summoned African villagers to meetings, or Imbizo. Kudo horns are in short supply so soccer fans started making them from tin and now they are mass produced in plastic of various colours for Bafana Bafana, the national team or for clubs such as Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Amazulu etc. Spanish player Xabi Alonso complained to FIFA about the noise at this years Confederations Cup. Get over it and go back to selling strings of onions.!! Sepp Blatter, the FIFA President does not agree. "the vuvuzela brings energy. It is rhythm, it is music, it is to dance to. When we go to South Africa we go to Africa."
Will The Bafana, Bafana (the boys, the boys) compete at the cup?? SAFA the national association www.safa.net has just re-hired Carlos Alberto Parreira, who had gone back to Brazil for family reasons. He recommended Joel Santana who was not a succees and was fired. One match won in eight, and until a 1-0 victory over lowly Madagascar. They had suffered 6 straight losses in a row. Carlos is back in town with not much time to get the boys playing as a team.
PSL Premier Soccer League www.psl.co.za is the national league with players starting out earning about R10,000 a month up to about R150,00 a month, and apart from big matches, attendances are low. Although PSL under CEO, Norwegian Kjetil Siem, is well run and by far the most successful league financially in Africa, the clubs nead to get fans and their vuvuzelas in their stadiums.
Tomorrow I am off to see a match at the home of THE CLEVER BOYS, so look forward to my report.