30 April 2010
In 2006, Australian soccer fan Steven Barnes camped in Munich for the Fifa World Cup, and in 2010 he will be one of over a thousand Australian soccer lovers who will call Durban’s Sahara Stadium home.
Barnes, together with two friends, who will be staying in Durban for Africa’s first ever World Cup, said he was looking forward to the soccer frenzy that will grip South Africa in June.
Australia will take on Germany at the Moses Mabhida stadium on 13 June, a clash that Barnes says he is looking forward to.
And their fans have already marked their territory in Durban, famous for its warm weather throughout the year. Australian tour group Fanatics, responsible for the organisation of the tour, will be based at the Sahara Stadium, Kingsmead, where a camping village will be set up.
The camp will open on 8 June and close on 30 June, and is close enough for a leisurely stroll to the new soccer venue. Transport options have also been included in the travel package, which includes match tickets.
Getting to know the country
Barnes said he chose the camping experience due to his phenomenal experience in Germany. “Munich was just brilliant. It was such a great atmosphere. There were just so many people around and it was fun,” he said.
The Australian, who now lives in London, said he has only been to South Africa on a very short visit, but enjoyed it and is looking forward to coming back in June.
Barnes has several friends in the country and, although he is keen to see them, he is equally enthusiastic about what Durban and the rest of South Africa has to offer.
“I will be there for the football. But I am also looking forward to the game parks, Zulu battlefield tours and getting to know the country’s history and culture,” Barnes said.
‘Every eventuality catered for’
Thousands of Australian supporters will camp in tents, equipped with beds and eco-friendly lamps, and will use the stadium’s existing toilet facilities. Mobile units will be installed in the stadium for showering.
Travel company Edusport will set up the infrastructure and manage the operations at the stadium, using expert companies to set up the camp sites and tents.
Fanatics said all tents with their contents will be donated to local businesses after the tournament, which will aid the development of local tourism in KwaZulu-Natal.
“Sahara Stadium Kingsmead is excited to be associated with this venture,” said stadium manager Brett Proctor. “The Fifa World cup in our country has provided diverse opportunity for many South Africans, and we at KwaZulu-Natal cricket are delighted to be hosting nearly 1 000 Australian soccer fans in this novel facility.
“Logistically, every eventuality has been catered for, from ablutions, catering, entertainment, transport, security and garnering the necessary support from local authorities to give the stadium a clean bill when it comes to safety factors,” Proctor said. “Also, the support and approval from the Australian high commission has been appreciated.”
Warren Livingstone, Fanatics tour organiser, confirmed that 1 200 Australians have already booked and “all the logistics have indeed been sorted out.”
‘Looking forward to the parties’
“With just under 56 days to go, the anticipation at the moment is massive. We are looking forward to the parties and mixing with the Durbanites,” Livingstone said from Australia.
Livingstone added that the detailed planning was made easier by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Local Government.
“The support we received was great. Working with the KwaZulu-Natal government and the council was just great. We are very happy with everything”.
Only those registered with Fanatics will be allowed onto the stadium. Other security features include patrolled perimeters on a 24-hour basis and security sweeps with sniffer dogs daily.
There will be controlled access for cleaning and catering staff, and a safe deposit area for passports, laptops and other valuables will be provided. Subtle security in unmarked vehicles and plain clothes will be on guard, and the premises will be fenced off.
“There is much available to these fans by way of food courts, concerts and big screen marquees, so that a party atmosphere will prevail for the duration of their visit. Probably many sleepless nights await us, but it should be a hugely gratifying three weeks,” Proctor said.
According to Fanatics, Australians fans will be entertained by international music acts such as Powderfinger, Fatboy Slim and Electric Mary on the non-match days.
Barnes, impressed with the Moses Mabhida Stadium, will be there to watch Australia lock horns with Germany. And, although having been in the United Kingdom for nine years, he joked that he would support any team against England.
“I read a feature article about the Moses Mabhida Stadium while on a flight to Australia, and it looks amazing. The cable car and bungee jumping makes it all very exciting. I will be here cheering on my team and any team that plays against England,” Barnes said.