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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.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

We enjoyed a lie-in this morning, to rest aching muscles, before we all attended a South African initiation session. We’ve taken over a huge conference suite at our hotel and it was brilliant to see the room full with a mass of smiling, exhausted faces. A lot of the team have been feeling uncomfortable about taking a day off so early in the project, but apart from the difficulties of working too hard, too soon, there are some very good reasons for having a rest day today. It is the first opportunity we’ve had to get all together in one place; it is National Youth Day, so there is no transport running; and finally, there is the Spain v Switzerland game in Durban this afternoon.
Tim Tucker, works for a South African charity ‘Ambassadors in Sport’, is an Englishman, is married to a South African and has been resident as an ex-pat for 12 years. This allowed him to give us a great insight into the newly emerging South African identity. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has summed it up with a Zulu phrase “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” meaning “a person is a person through (other) persons”. This sense of community, openness and hospitality has been essential to bring reconciliation through the apartheid atrocities. Sport is helping to change and shape the new national identity, starting with the rugby World Cup victory and now, spectacularly, with the football.
Heidi, Mark and Lisa work in Newcastle on various sexual health projects and they taught us some sobering facts about HIV/AIDS which we will share on a later blog. Tom and Mandy talked to us passionately about the project they have founded to protect street kids in Durban. It was fantastic to hear Tom’s confidence that this battle can be won – last year, for the first time, more permanent street kids were re-integrated than arrived fresh on the streets.

Following an afternoon of research, I can confirm that Durban beach front is not the same as Ryde beach front. There are similarities, of course, as both have a wimpy on the water’s edge. Ryde boasts a dotto train, a helter skelter and swans on the lake, but during the World Cup at least, Durban probably edges it with cricket pitches, sand sculptures, showers, market stalls, zip wires, bouncy castles, climbing walls, huge inflatable balls, countless football pitches, beach volleyball courts, 3 music stages and a chair lift. I’ll talk to Ryde Town Council.

Our luck ran out this afternoon. When we tried to repeat our last-minute ticket swoop from Sunday, we found that there were far more people around the stadium looking for tickets. This kept the prices ludicrously high and we missed Spain’s humiliation against Switzerland.

The big game of the day was obviously South Africa and Uruguay and we didn’t have to venture far to find a fantastic spot to watch the game. Right outside our hotel window is a huge music stage (playing every night until midnight!) and the game was shown on a huge screen. Steve & Len have picked up vuvuzelas for Owen and Anya and decided that tonight was the perfect opportunity to test them out, so we joined the huge throng of fans wearing Bafana Bafana shirts and cheered on the hosts. Before the game, there was huge anticipation amongst the crowd, cheering, waving flags and blowing the vuvzelas. So, it was quite a surprise to see the entire crowd sit down on the grass, en masse, as soon as the game started.

Frustratingly, the game didn’t offer much to get the crowd back on their feet, as Uruguay came out very strongly and Diego Forlan scored a great opener. After that, Uruguay defended very efficiently and the hosts never really threatened to get back into the game. The game was effectively over when an offside striker won a dubious penalty decision and the South African keeper was dismissed. The promised party on the beachfront fizzled out. It is really important that Bafana Bafana beat France in their final group game and manage to progress to the knock out stages, for the sake of the tournament, for the sake of South African sport and for the sake of South Africa’s emerging national identity. So, no pressure then.
We’re back to the build tomorrow and some changes have been made to learn lessons from the first couple of days. The coach company have been replaced and the building teams are leaving earlier to maximise time on-site. It means that builders will be leaving the hotel at 7am from tomorrow, but football projects get an extra couple of hours lie-in. Not that we’re jealous, it will be fantastic to get stuck back into the real work. Len has purchased a large box of tea bags to replace Russell and Precious’s stock, so we’re ready for anything.
Thanks for all your positive comments about our blog and photos – we’ll do our best to keep it going.


  1. Really brilliant blog again today lads. Look forward to catching up daily. But can someone please do me a favour and "blow up" that vuvuzela! either that or i will be sending some money for someone to get Martin's children one each! come on Martin, the weight of this job is firmly on your shoulders.

  2. Oi Shellie - don't you go giving them ideas! I'm sure we'll be able to hear Owen & Anya's vuvuzelas from our house anyway ;)