Vuvuzela: Bafana Bafana’s ’12th man’

21 May 2010

With all the concerns about Bafana Bafana’s chances of making it through the first round of the 2010 Fifa World Cup™, the host nation appears to have been handed a lifeline.

It comes in the form of the mighty vuvuzela, a plastic trumpet which emits a noise that has been likened to a swarm of bees, a dying elephant – and other disparaging comparisons.

The Project 2010 column: Craig Urquhart Following Bafana’s drubbing of Thailand in a World Cup warm-up match in Nelspruit last weekend, coach Bryan Robson warned international managers they will have to rethink on-pitch communication strategies due to its raucous roar.

The former Manchester United and England skipper warned that the instrument is going to become Bafana Bafana’s 12th man during the month-long tournament.

“The noise out there was deafening and created a fantastic atmosphere, but it was so loud I could not communicate with my players on the field,” Robson said. “If 30 000 vuvuzelas can make such a racket, what will 90 000 be able to do when South Africa play in the World Cup?”

Robson is not alone in his concerns about the impact that the noise on the stands could have on the performances of the players.

At last year’s Confederations Cup, many broadcasters complained bitterly about the “noisy trumpets”.

However, Fifa president Sepp Blatter perhaps recognised that the host nation – currently languishing in 90th place on the world rankings – needed all the help it could get.

Blatter stated that vuvuzelas were part of South African soccer tradition and would play an important role in highlighting the “magic” of South African soccer.

Bafana head coach Carlos Alberto Parreira agrees, saying recently: “Make them louder, louder, louder!”

South African football fans won’t need encouraging – football fever is spreading fast on the country’s streets, in its schools, offices, shopping malls … and churches.

Grace Bible Church in Soweto recently launched its World Cup campaign, dubbed The Ultimate Goal”. Pastors, deacons, elders and the entire congregation wear Bafana Bafana jerseys and accompany each “Amen” with a blast on a vuvuzela.

Millions of South Africans have woken up to the fact that the most crucial moment in the country’s post-apartheid history is fast approaching – and they are arming themselves to the teeth (or should that be lips?)!

Urquhart is a former Fifa World Cup media officer and the current editor of Project 2010