9 June 2010
Greeted with ululations and blasts from vuvuzelas, the South African squad took to the pitch in an open training session at Wits University’s Sturrock Park ground in Johannesburg on Tuesday afternoon.
Calls of “Boooothhh” (referring to South African footballer Matthew Booth) and the singing of South Africa’s unofficial sports anthem, Shosholoza, echoed around Sturrock Park as the fans showed their support for their national side.
The training session’s tickets were reserved for Wits University staff and students, many of whom have been waiting for an opportunity to see the team in action.
“I did everything in my power to get here,” said Yaeesh Moosa, a 22-year-old engineering student. “I have to get my hands on Steven Pienaar’s boots. No, seriously, I am a huge Bafana fan.
“I want to be patriotic and support my side,” Moosa said. “I was ready two hours before this practice event, and I couldn’t sleep I’m so excited for the tournament.
“The fact that we get to host these great teams and see some of the stars on campus is amazing.”
Wits University is a hub of activity during the World Cup, with both South Africa and the Dutch sides having venues on the campus for training.
Certain hostels will be hosting international fans, while the journalism, medical and commerce faculties are involved in research and support during the tournament.
Wits is also one of the designated “Park and Ride” venues for both the Ellis Park and Soccer City stadiums.
Watching the South African side play a practice game, Lekwatle Pheladi and Pedzie Chiwota, two Wits staff members, said they were on the edge of their seats in anticipation of the tournament.
Chiwota has a ticket to the opening game and is looking forward to the historic occasion.
“This event has united the people of South Africa,” he said. “It is the first World Cup in Africa and it will be incredible to see Bafana playing at Soccer City against Mexico.”