Friday, June 18, 2010

Culmination of a once in a lifetime Experience

The last two days of the trip we were lucky enough to see two more matches. On Tuesday night we saw Brazil play. After watching Brazil play on Tuesday night I now understand why they call soccer the beautiful game. Brazil passed the ball around so effortlessly it was amazing. For any soccer fan to watch Brazil live is a treat and is something a soccer fan will never forget. The Brazilian fans were also some of the top supporters of their World Cup team just behind South Africa. The Brazilian fans brought in a drum and saxaphone during the game and sang and danced throughout the game which angered security. Security at the stadiums throughout the World Cup was pretty atrocious. I mean the World Cup is a global event and for security to neglect using the metal detectors and not checking bags was dangerous. Security, at last what we saw of it was not up to par. Many things needed to be done better. On a brighter note the last day of the trip we toured around the city of Tshwane and Pretoria. This was a pretty good end of the trip experience because we all walked around as a group scanning the marketplace for last minute gifts and kind of reminiscing about the trip as a whole. At the same time this was a sad day to say goodbye to South Africa we got to see Bafana Bafana play one more time. Despite the vuvuzela's and tough play South Africa lost to Uruguay. This loss almost makes it certain South Africa will not advance to the next round. In response to this I felt honored to watch South Africa play their hearts out for their country and watch the fans give all they had to cheer on their team. It was great and I will never forget the sea of green and yellow at the South African games.

I am writing this last post on American soil, and yes all of us made it back safe and sound despite some minor bus trouble a couple miles away from WNEC. Overall this trip was the best travel experience of my life. I think all of us took home some very valuable cultural and social aspects from the gracious way we were treated in South Africa. We didn't feel like foreigners we felt like guests in someone's home. We never faced any animosity, the South African people loved us and were always engaging in conversation. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone on the trip for making it such a great experience, Dr. Covell and Professor Hamakawa for allowing me the opportunity to take part in this trip, our drive Mpho was excellent as well, and all the parents for funding for this trip we all greatly appreciate it.

Dear South Africa,
Thank you for a remarkable global soccer experience on the biggest stage. I had a blast and would love to stay longer. I will miss Bafana Bafana and the Bafana supporters you were one in a million. The trip was unforgetable.

Thank you,
David Quackenbush

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Safari and Sun City

The safari and Sun City trip was one of the highlights of our sightseeing adventures. The trip to Sun City was about 2 hours long and at first they would not let us in but eventually Professor Hamakawa used his delegation skills to get us in. Once we got into "African Vegas" we were all in awe. The place was incredible. The hotel at Sun City was amazing. The views from the top of the hotel were to die for. The sun in the top of the sky with no clouds above huge mountaintops truely picturesque.

Instead of doing the safari first our grop had 4 hours to explore the casino and various shops and restaurants. And that we did. Sun City had mini golf, Fifa sponsored shops, great pizza, an arcade, a waterpark, and the allure of the casino to offer. Many of our group members made profit. Dave Fitz and Tim Conrod topped off the winnings with 100 dollars each. Unfortunately Kevin Shaker was the only one to lose money. The casino and various other attractions were awesome and I think everyone enjoyed them.

The safari at 3pm was so cool. We all had no idea what to expect, I mean we weren't sure if we would even see any animals. One minute later we saw a gigantic elephant 30 yards or so in the disttance which was amazing. We also saw rhinos, hippos, springboks, and were lucky enought to see a leopard as well as some zebras. Although we did not see a lion to see 10 or so other species up close was awesome.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


The emotional highs' of the USA game and South Africa game were great but the moment we had in Soweto, South Africa was much more eye opening. Soweto, a township, is a very, very poor city in South Africa. In Joburg we saw homeless people and there were people begging for food and money but in Soweto it was unimaginable. Our driver pulled down one street and we stopped and looked at what were called apartments from a distance. These apartments were one room which had no electricity, no toilet, no running water and 6-8 people sometimes lived in that one room. It was pretty sad to hear this it really made you feel blessed to have these amenities. As we drove further along the scene didn't get much better. You saw people laying on the ground sleeping, children walking by themselves, and shanties and shacks for miles.

We stopped at one local village if you want to call it that. Here we were mobbed by 15-25 little kids who we distributed gifts too. Pins, flags, shirts, soccer gear they loved it all and almost took it out of our hands. It felt good to give back to these impoverish children but you always wish you could do more. But, these kids were actually really happy. They spoke really good English and everyone of them talked to us and asked us questions about or families, our jobs, and it was really cool to talk to them. One boy I met was 12 years old and he told me he was gonna be an Orlando Pirate, professional soccer team near Soweto. I hope the soccer ball I gave him will get him to that goal and hopefully out of poverty.

While in Soweto we were taken into one of the houses. I say house but it was only a 2 room shanty. The rooms were 5X10 maybe a little bigger but 6 people lived in it. I could not imagine that house in the heat of summer or the cold of winter. Very scary to think about.

The trip to Soweto was very eye opening and it shows how poor some parts of the world really are.

The "tie" heard round the World

Sorry for the delay on the posts it has been a couple days since we were allowed internet access due to our busy schedule.

June 12th was an adventure. We had one of our longest rides ever on this trip. The drive to Rustenburg for the USA game was over 2 hours long. Although long, it was a very eventful experience. In order to get to Rustenburg we had to travel along a one lane road most of the way. This road eventually wrapped around a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. On the mountainside were beautiful homes that I myself would not mind living in. But the best/most entertaining part was the salesman that lined this road. We were in stop and go traffic so men and women alike, immediately recognizing that we were tourists stuck their head in our van and offered us mixed nuts, figurines, jewlery, coasters, even a bow and arrow! At first no one acknowledged the salespeople but jokingly one person asked how much for something and we weren't left alone again. These people would never take no for an answer. So Kevin Shaker bought 2 figurines for 120 rand when 1 figurine was first offered for 200 rand! So he lucked out. Then came the coasters. Professor Hamakawa bought the coasters for 100 rand. Then Sean Healey bought them for 60 rand. Then Dave Fitz bought them for 40 rand. It was incredbile the farther down you went the less everything cost. It was hilarious. So in reality we all lucked out here. 745 rand is equal to 100 dollars. So 100 rand is around 14 dollars. And for Dave Fitz he was the delegate of the day buying the coasters for less than 6 dollars.

Our journey continued on as we stopped on a bridge to take pictures. On the bridge we were either accosted by English fans or given high fives by USA fans. Eventually we got to within walking distance of the stadium and the streets were chaos. I had never seen that many English Flags in my life. I would repeat this statement later. Clearly just from outside the stadium England fans outnumbered USA fans. Walking into the stadium was crazy. There were so many people everywhere. The aura was set from waiting in line. English fans taunting the USA fans. The USA fans chaning "USA" over and over to drown them out. It had all the appeal of a great rivalry. Once we got into the stadium and through all the English men in line buying 6-8 beers at a time we found our seats, front row of the second level in the corner. You couldn't ask for better seats. Immediately we were in an arguement with and English fan when Dave Fitz tried to hang our USA flag over an English flag despite the fact we had rights to that area. Eventually we compromised but tensions were building.

It was unreal once the players came onto the field. My favorite players and soccer idols from Enland and the USA were right before my eyes. The best players in the world like Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard, Terry, Donovan, Dempsey were set to take the field. I was going crazy I have never taken more pictures in my life. During the national anthem our group from Wnec sang passionately, loud, and probably really off pitch but the patriotism was there. England struck first scoring relatively easy in the game and there fans went wild. All of the 300 or more England flags were raised in the air. I was scared we might bet embarrased if England already scored that easily. But. the 'Yanks' never gave up. Clint Dempsey was our man. He shot the ball at the English goalie who made a routine save until he dropped the ball into the back of the net. Our group all yelled and celebrated together. The USA team mobbed each other on the field, pure jubilation. A great moment for USA soccer. The rest of the game was a battle. Both sides going back and forth with great chances but the game ended in a 1-1 draw which in the words of any USA fan "We'll take it." We'll take it is true. The goal we got was a gift but it still counts for 1 on the scoreboard.

It was a great day for us as fans but even better for USA soccer. The new cheer we learned at the game to taunt England was, "Joburg, Capetown, Rustenburg, Durban, if it weren't for USA you'd be speaking German." A great historical reference but funny as well.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Kickoff of the 2010 Fifa World Cup

On June 11,2010-me and 94,499 of my closest friends witnessed one of the greatest spectacles in all of sports. The opening match of the 2010 Fifa World Cup for the first time ever on African soil. Leading up to the stadium traffic was backed up 3-5 hours. The streets were littered with South African supporters who were running through the streets blowing the vuvuzulea horn non stop. Everywhere you looked you saw the colors yellow and green. As the group from WNEC entered the stadium we were in awe of how big Soccer City was up close. The stadium is massive to say the least. It was a complete mob scene trying to enter the stadium. Once we got into the 94,500 seat stadium the energy and electricity in the buidling was evident. The opening ceremonies featured dancers and performances from top known singers in the world. The fans in the stadium were one in a million. It was a sea of yellow in soccer city. The vuvuzela did not stop once during the entire game. Unfortunately Mandela was unable to attend but Sepp Blatter, Fifa President officially opened the 2010 Fifa World Cup in outstanding fashion.

The game itself was crazy. Each team South Africa and Mexico had numerous chances to score in the first half but the first half ended in a scoreless tie. Every time South Africa had the ball attacking the goal the entire stadium stood up waiting to erupt. And finally midway through the second half glory ensued. Steven Piennar, center midfielder for South Africa played a brillian through ball to the left side of the 18 yard box and the outside midfielder for South Africa sent a brilliant strike upper 90, top corner far post for the magnificant goal. I think the stadium began to shake. I joined in with the whole stadium in yelling as loud as possible and blew the vuvuzela horn that I bought for at least 5 minutes straight. In that second alone I'm pretty sure I damaged my hearing indefinitely but it was worth it. Later in the second half Mexico tied the game up on a goal by center back Rafa Marquez. I had never seen the stadium so quiet. Although it would have been the best win in South African national team history a tie vs. Mexico is great news for Bafana Bafana, "the boys" of South Africa.

This game was the pinnacle of my sports career. I feel truly blessed to have been a part of this game. Watching this game from the 5th row added to how classic this match was. Watching the game live from that perspective is much different then watching it on television.

In closing, the game, the emotions, and the passion were incredible. I cannot wait for the USA England game, look for the Western New England College sign.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Johannesburg and Sandton City

Today is June 10, 2010 the day before the World Cup. The Wnec FC as our group is calling ourselves had our first breakfast at the University. To our suprise we all found warm milk in our cereal which was not the most delicious thing I've ever had by far.
Our group made the drive from Pretoria into Johannesburg at 9 in the morning. The drive lasted about an hour and we got our first views of the wonderful city of Johannesburg. First stop of the day was at the IBC, The International Broadcast Center. The IBC is the headquarters of the media of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Once an empty buidling the IBC is flowing with reporters and camera crews from every nation represented in the World Cup. While at the IBC our group spotted ESPN analysts Julie Foudy and Chris Fowler. We did not get to see Outside the Lines reporter Bob Ley or Alexi Lalas which was too bad.
The IBC which was located just outside of Soccer City, the 94,500 person stadium was its own little village. Equipped with a Wellness Center, Bank, and post office. Our group was able to get a first hand account of how the image we get on our televesion back home is produced. I would go into more detail about that if I knew more about technology.
The second half of our day was truly where we got to mix it up with the locals. We traveled to 2 shopping centers where we made our first purchases and tried out our bargaining techniques. The people here were so friendly and welcoming. We then travled to the top of one of the malls in Johannesburg called the Top of Africa and stood on the 50th floor taking pictures of the gigantic city of Johannesburg which looked like NYC from up above.
The best part of the day was at Sandton City in Mandela Square. At Mandela Square our group saw the passion of the World Cup. Spontaneously Mexican fans, Argentina fans, South African fans, and fans of any nation present were singing, dancing, blowing the patented South African horns all night for multiple hours. It was truly a magnificant sight to see. The square was wild with World Cup Fever, it was hard not to embrace it. Also, our group witnessed what soccer looks like in 3d. I'll say this much I don't know how goalies do it. Some of the shots we saw in 3d are coming at you so fast it is scary. I recommend all with HD tv's to buy 3d because you are literally on the field.
After a long day of touring the city and seeing World Cup banners lining the streets, the passion of the fans, and experiencing the food and shopping our group arrived back at the University at after 10 at night. We were all worn out. It was a great first day in South Africa and I think all of us will remember it for some time.

Plane Ride to South Africa

After an exhausting 13 hour plane ride from JFK airport to Dubai, a two hour layover, and an eight hour connecting flight to Johannesburg we finally arrived in South Africa host of the 2010 Fifa World Cup-on June 9!
All eleven students-Michael Jones, Dave Fitzpatrick, Dan Gould, Ally Ostler, Spencer Severs, Shawn Fitzpatrick, Kevin Shaker, Sean Healy, Tim Conrod, Nick Starr, Professor Hamakawa, and Dr. Covell are all present and accounted for. The mascot the golden bear himself also made it safely.
We are staying at the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria, the country's capital, which is about 40 minutes out of Johannesburg. From first impressions in South Africa it is quite chilly. A sweatshirt and pants is a must throughout the day.
South Africa is alive with World Cup Spirit. The airport is fully decorated with World Cup Banners on the walls, buidlings, floors, and even coke machines. The South African people are no doubt ready to host the 2010 World Cup for the fist time on African Soil.

Sorry about posting late but internet access is limited. Tomorrow we travel into Johannesburg.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Official release of Golden Bear Daily

Hello and welcome to my blog.

My name is David Quackenbush I am a sophomore at Western New England College. I will be traveling to South Africa on June 8, 2010 for a summer abroad trip to the World Cup along with 12 other WNEC students and 2 faculty supervisors from the Sports Management department. The summer abroad trip is part of the The Center for International Sport Business (CISB) International Sport Management Seminar Travel course which involves study trips during school breaks that are taught, chaperoned and supervised by a School of Business Sport Management department faculty member. This version of the course will focus on the country of South Africa and the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Students will attend several matches in three different cities, take part in other cultural and sport management related activities, and perform coursework to reinforce the learning objectives
• To gain a broad understanding of the history and context of sport management in a location outside the United States.
• To develop awareness of the cultural differences and similarities between the United States, South Africa, and specific World Cup participant nations that impact business practice.
• To understand soccer from multiple perspectives (historical, political, cultural, geographic, legal, economic, management).
• To enhance student understanding of managerial and operational issues related to the 2010 World Cup.

Having that said, This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for myself and my peers. Thank you to all who read this blog and I hope it is informative and fun at the same time. Feel free to comment back at any time.

Next time you here from me I will be in South Africa!


Dave Quackenbush