Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rustenburg - Royal Bafokeng Stadium

On Friday, upon landing, we found out at an airport info booth that there were buses scheduled to take fans from Petroria to Rustenburg for the USA vs England game. A nice lady at the info booth had requested we call her cell phone to set it up once we were ready.

We called her on Saturday morning. She takes our names, and tells us to be at the Petroria City Hall for the 3 pm bus, and that a man named Andrew would have our tickets for the bus.

We show up and there is a trailer parked at the Hall that says something along the lines of World Cup Transport. Inside, on a card table, a person hand writes our receipts that indicate we've paid for the bus tickets. Change is given from a person's pocket, not a register. It's all very interesting to me - no computers or high tech anything, but functional.

We are also told that the bus would not leaving at 3, but rather at 3:40. Shortly after boarding with maybe 20 other people, we're told that we'll be waiting until 4:30 to depart, but are reassured that the driver "he will fly," and we'll get to the stadium by 6:30, two hours before kickoff.

A little over an hour into the drive, we realize that the traffic on the one-lane highway will make it impossible for us to arrive by 6:30. We also see our first sunset. Pretty incredible.
Cars were not only passing us on the right, but also from the shoulder. Enough on the drive. We pull up to the stadium about 40 minutes before kickoff, write down the license plates, and begin a fast walk to gates.

We pass one security stop point, then a place where they tear the bottom of your ticket, and finally through a metal detector and ticket scan. Now inside the stadium, we each go to our respective gates since we have seats in different spots: three together, two together, and two on our own, including me.

I'm down low, three rows from the track, in a corner behind the U.S. goal, and, with English fans in front, to my right, and behind me. It was a bit lonely to be a U.S. fan in this seat, especially when I could see the larger contingency of USA fans off to my right and a few rows behind.

I heard some interesting chants when England scored first. And when Dempsey evened it up, I turned to realize those immediately around me were not in the mood to high five.
At halftime I walked across five sections worth of rows, and made it to the upper deck, where I find three of our crew. Another guy, also sitting on his own and in a similar situation, spots me and also joins us. We explain to the other US supporters were we were sitting, and they tell us to stay in this section. They'll make room.

When the game ends, the New York / New Jersey crew that brings that huge U.S. flag takes it out and I'm underneath it. When we take it down, we realize that almost all the English fans have left the stadium, and realize how many American fans were there. To our right, left, below, way up in the upper deck. All singing and chanting. The U.S. players walked to each section and clapped high in appreciation.
We begin to walk out and in the concourse, a large group of U.S. fans had gathered to continue their chants. Pictures are being taken from all sides. The party continues outside, as everyone begins to walk to their cars.

We see and greet MLS Commissioner Don Garber and U.S.A Bid Committee Executive Director David Downs. They know Denver was represented!


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4 comments:

Walter Tully said...

Watching an international sports event can be very overwhelming. There are a lot of people coming from the home countries of the various competing teams. Similar to your experience, I was able to watch an international rugby event held at the local stadium at Glendale parks and recreations. Te 4000 seats had been occupied by the supporters. I was able to sit with fellow Americans supporting the US team in that game. The crowd cheered whenever the players score. It was a very rowdy yet fun event at Glendale parks and recreation. I'm looking forward to the next event this season.
Antonio Cangco(2010-07-07 16:46:26):
Watching an international sports event can be overwhelming. There are a lot of people coming from the home countries of the various competing teams. Like your experience, I was able to watch an international rugby event held at the local stadium at Glendale parks and recreations. The 4,000 seats had been occupied by supporters of both sides. I was able to sit with fellow Americans supporting the US team in that game. The crowd cheered whenever the players scored. It was a very rowdy yet fun event at Glendale parks and recreation. I'm looking forward to the next event this season.

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