About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

25 June 2010

Transport Blues?

Apart from security, the next biggest fear about the world cup was the transport system - or the lack thereof. In the space of 3 days last weekend, I got experience both the highs and lows of the transport system.

For the matches at Loftus in Pretoria, I used the Park and Walks. What was amazing was the efficiency - not only in the signage and policing - but also how little time (comparatively) it took to actually get in and out of the stadium. In the Denmark v Cameroon games, I got home 65 minutes after the final whistle had blown. I drove to the same area this morning for work, and it took 25 minutes. Given the volume of people leaving the stadium - that was really impressive.

For the match at Soccer City on Sunday - I decided to park at Sandton City, and then make use of the Metrobus to the City Centre, and then the Rea Vaya, bus rapid transport system to the stadium. The tickets were R50 return, and a further R9 for parking at Sandton City - not bad in my opinion. The return trip - from the end of the match to getting into my flat, took under 90 minutes, which is very respectable.

This mode seemed to be very popular, with a lot of tourists making use of it; and with a very festive atmosphere (esp with the bunch of Brazilian fans that got on the bus with us). It was not a smooth start. With tickets being needed to be bought on board; and our general lack of orderly queues, it was a bit of chaos to actually board the bus. While I have had similar experiences in many other countries (Peru, Brazil and India stand out), it could have been controlled a lot better. But then again, this is Africa.

But thereafter, it was a pleasure. The bus dropped us of at Westgate BRT station, where there were a lot more orderly queues to board the BRT buses to Soccer City. The attendants were helpful and the system really works.

It was the first time I have used public transport in Jo'burg, and I was truly impressed. And the other South Africans with us were seemingly also impressed - especially the BRT. Not all South Africans - among the people in our bus from Sandton were three teenage girls (sisters I believe), who were quite spoilt and was aghast that they were actually going into town (the standout comment - "Town, eewwww gross. Mommy - you didn't say we were going to town!"). Their parents were however quite impressed - and stated as much.

Early Monday morning however, also brought out the deficiencies in our transport system. A Mexican/American friend of mine (and his girlfriend) were wanting to travel to Rustenburg for the Uruguay v Mexico game; and there does not seem to be any transport arrangements in this regard. A number of shuttle services charge outrageous amounts of R1500+ for a return trip. While they had booked a car, his credit card had a huge block from a previous rental (when he went to Polokwane to watch the Mexico-France game). Luckily, I managed to help him out with the transport arrangements - but what about all those people who were travelling alone?

The transport arrangements at the World Cup shows that we can do this correctly, and do it well. It has also shown the areas we need to improve on - the ticketing, the queueing and the coverage. This is all good news - I just hope that we keep on implementing these. And I hope, that in future sporting events - be it cricket, rugby or football; we carry on using these arrangements.

21 June 2010

FWC 2010: Brazil v Côte d'Ivoire

Soccer City is an amazing stadium - not only beautiful at night, but also really good organisation (even with the inevitable disorganised South African queues at the security check points). Very spacious, it really defines what sport stadiums should be like! And with a near full house (over 95% attendance), it was an absolutely amazing atmosphere.

The Brazilians truly dress up for the occasion, and while Zakumi draped in a Brazilian flag was a stuffed doll, there were people dressed in various animal costumes, a fan dressed as a Mexican wrestler cum super-hero and a whole lot more. And there were plenty of replica world cup trophies; leaving no doubt on the expectations that the fans have of their team.

The game itself was high scoring, and with the red card for Kaka, featured a bit of everything. But the Ivorians were mostly outclassed - not in their ability to stand up to the Brazilians, but in two crucial areas: bad defending (and communication at defence) and even worse passing. Countless opportunities were lost where the pass was just too strong, and the striker or wing just not being able to get to it in time. There was also some rather bad decision making in terms of passing to the wrong player or not striking or passing the ball when there seemed to be an opportunity.

This is the only Category 1 ticket I bought for my games, and had an amazing view of the game; which also allowed to take some nice pics. I really enjoyed the Soccer City experience, and look forward to my next two matches there.

FWC 2010: Cameroon v Denmark

Ultimately, this ended up being a fairly depressing night for African football, as one of the best African teams on paper, became the first team to crash out, without scoring a point. It had started so well, but Cameroon fluffed so many chances, they trully did not deserve to win.

It was a great game from the Danish perspective, and the Danish fans were a great bunch (I was surrounded by them). They played better football overall, and had some very fast counter attacks.

Loftus, was once more, not full - and yet again it seems mostly to be the hospitality sections. Maybe Loftus, being the stronghold of the Bulls, just has too many hospitality suites and not enough standard seats; but empty seats are not good signs regardless.

Fan Diplomacy

On Saturday, I sat next to C, a temporary dimplomat working in the German Embassy. The German embassy has created a fan embassy, travelling around with the German team. The intention is to expedite any issues German visitors may encounter in SA - typical German efficiency! That said, C, did think that it was just an excuse to travel around SA watching football. C, the temporary dimplomat was in SA to staff the normal embassy operations - and he didn't mind as he is taking the opportunity to watch as many games as he can!

What was most interesting however, was his comments on the world cup so far. In his knowledge, there have only been two incidences that have been dealt with the fan embassy - lost passports in Durban. On that basis, this has been a very much trouble free WC - and that is great news to hear!

He did think that PE was not a good choice for game venue - it was simply too far from other venues; and that is his rationalle on why the games haven't been well atteneded. PE is too far to drive from Gauteng for a day trip (unlike Nelspruit, Polokwane and Rustenburg) or in fact from Durban and CT. In many respects I agree - but I also think the Arts Fest etc. did not advertise well enough of the merits and could have made it work better.

Supporter Clubs

One of the impressive aspects of the FWC, is the "Supporter Clubs". The temporary dimplomat from Saturday explained, that there are a number of supporter clubs in Europe, especially Germany, who go round the world watching football matches. The supporter clubs rank up "points" on the games they show their banners at - although he was unsure of what the points entailed.

Grosblie, is one of those prominent clubs - but there are a lot more - and they certainly lend an interesting dimension to the experience.