The Germans had it far too easy against Australia in their opening game, though it was beautiful to watch them execute their offensive gems. Since so much else is being written about the game elsewhere, I thought I’d tell you briefly about some characters in Durban who caught my attention on game day.
How can I not begin with Werner Wieh. He was parading around the stadium plaza, with a German flag as a cape. Even though it was a long before the opening kick, he already had the satisfied grin of a winner. And why not?
FIFA 2010 South Africa World Cup might be called his 11th Cap. He hasn’t missed a tournament since attending his first in 1966. When asked how this one compares to other ones, he said, “Suuupeh”.
Melusi Sibisi turned 25 Saturday, a day that also marked the first anniversary of his life as freelancer. He lives in Johannesburg and started his career with the South African Broadcasting Corporation. The Zulu is a broadcast technician and is one of the people who says he’s better off because of the World Cup. The tournament has meant three months of work for him, and at a rate that’s 40% higher than what he normally gets. He says he’ll be able to live off this contract for at least another three months, and that it’s justified his decision to freelance.
What he does is start the high-speed transfer of compressed video files back to home countries for networks like the one I’m working with – the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The technology amazes me! I bring him a USB stick with a two-minute report on it, he slips it into his MacBook Pro. After he drags the file into a program that places it on a server, my colleagues in Toronto can download it. The whole process takes about a half hour.
And what about this guy? As we scouted the roads around the stadium this morning to choose a best route in and out, we kept crossing paths with this runner. How long you out for, I asked. “2 hours,” he replied with a weak grin. Getting ready for a marathon, I asked. “No, no,” he said in his Aussie accent, “I’m here for the World Cup. But I have done 5 ironmans.” He was adding to the list of endurance events completed, but I couldn’t make the names out because the light had turned green and we had to pull away.