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We are three guys from the Isle of Wight that are flying to South Africa to work alongside other football fanatics as part of an organisation known as Lionsraw. South Africa 2010 is the debut Lionsraw Special Project. Lionsraw is taking a 130 strong squad of football fans to Durban, South Africa for two weeks during the World Cup. The Lionsraw team will operate in ‘The Valley of a Thousand Hills'', the epicentre of the World's HIV / AIDS crisis. Alongside existing local charities the team will help in ‘construction projects' and ‘soccer academies' for deprived local children during the day. Each evening the squad will retire to our fanzone for the full world cup tour experience.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Day Six - Rest Day in Durban

So, I guess that I need to start with the events of last night. The Lionsraw posse all donned our red football shirts and walked en masse to the FIFA FanFest area on the beach. We were excited, noisy and expectant. England’s first display against the USA was less than convincing, but most of us had been flying and missed the whole sorry affair, so this was our chance to get things back on track. A win should make qualification fairly straightforward. Opinion was divided about the inclusion of James for Green, but we were pretty unanimous in our view that an Aston Villa substitute really wasn’t the right partner for Rooney. Sure enough, every time the ball bounced off Heskey, it went straight to an Algerian. The rest of the team weren’t much better. After the game, I received a text from my mate Bob in Sweden who summed it up perfectly – “What’s the matter with the English National Team. I have never seen such good players achieve so little.” Technically, they were inept, unable to pass or cross, let alone go past a defender. Collectively, we were ashamed, quiet and decidedly nervous about our chances to progress. Suddenly, I’m glad that we have a ticket to return next weekend, because the England entourage might now be looking for earlier flights.

Thankfully, today dawned bright and we enjoyed a much needed lie-in. Earlier in the week, I was quite bullish about working through Saturday to get more of the build complete. Now, my mind would still prefer to be working, but frankly, my body is not up to it. We have all been on the go pretty much without stop since we arrived. Two things illustrate this: firstly, I find it hugely ironic that very few of the Lionsraw team seem to have any idea about how the World Cup is progressing – nobody seems to know who is playing next, or how the group positions stand. For a team of football anoraks, this is real testament to the focus on project work. Secondly, I am amazed to say that today is the first time that I have even turned on the tv in our hotel room – and as my wife will tell you, this is normally, the FIRST thing that I do on entering any hotel room. There is no doubt that working 8 hours in the heat, plus at least three hours in the coach every day is taking it’s toll on everybody. Len’s wrist is still not great after all the mixing he’s done, but the rest day today has helped and he’ll strap it again tomorrow.

So, how did we spend our rest day? It started with a hugely surreal period when I found myself bent over the bath, elbow deep in brown slimey water, scrubbing somebody else’s smalls, while being serenaded by 5,000 orange dutch fans singing Auld Lang Syne.

We followed the orange army down to the stadium and managed to pick up tickets at less than face value once again. Japan looked pretty good and gave the Netherlands a really good game, but missed out to a very strong strike from Wesley Sneider. Once again the atmosphere all around the stadium and during the game was fantastic. There were fans from every nation, singing and blowing vuvuzelas, with absolutely no segregation and a very low-key police presence. I’ve been on the look-out, but despite all the hype in the English press before we left, I’ve not seen a single stab vest.

After the game, we bought a newspaper to find out how the locals are viewing the World Cup. The front page headline on the Durban Post is “Eyeing the Candy – all the soccer hotties are oh so sweet!” and Jolene Marriah reports on “the players’ other attributes ... which some girls my age, and even older, do ogle at”. Amazingly, there was not a single English player in her top twelve.
Reading on, I came across a fantastic innovation, which I think we should import to the UK immediately. The Post includes a full page of sms messages sent in by readers and it seems to provide a fantastic public service – these are just a few of our favourite texts:
“A Supermarket in Reservoir Hills needs a wakeup call. The manager’s attitude stinks worse than rotten eggs. They should investigate their low quality, wrong prices and stinking attitudes.”
“There is a house alarm that goes off at odd hours every day in Silverglen. It is really disturbing. Does anyone know who I can complain to?”
“2 Rafa (ex Manager of Pool) Now u hav 2 walk alone n hope Stevie G is in hot pursuit “
“Can anyone please help to fight bad breath. My mouth stinks so bad.”
“To the person I work with – I think you are a hippo coz you keep judging everybody. Please comb your hair.”
If the editor of the County Press is reading this, my introductory fee is very reasonable.

The best news of the day arrived at the end of the day. We must register our utmost respect and thanks to Paul Martin who has demonstrated great ingenuity and perseverance today to acquire a desperately needed circular saw. Paul approached our hotel to talk to their maintenance team, but was told that they outsourced all the carpentry. Undeterred, Paul asked them to contact the company and blagged a lift in the hotel car to go to their shop where he picked up a circular saw plus a bonus plane and screwdriver. Makes you proud to be British.


  1. so may questions.... whose smalls are you scrubbing?! how on earth have you managed a whole week with no TV? why were the orange people singing Auld Land Syne? are hippos really judgemental? I think we should be told

  2. Well Andrea. Thank you, you have said it all for me! You know what makes me proud to be British? It's all you men that have taken up this chance to truly change lives for the better. You all make me extremly PROUD.