Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ironic Twist?

At the same time the sport of soccer is gaining some momentum in the USA with its national team advancing to the knockout stage (versus Ghana today at 2:30 p.m. ET) of the World Cup, the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, NY, is shuttering its operations at the 35,000 square-foot facility due to lack of funding.

USA Fuels TV Ratings

The stateside following of Team USA at the 2010 World Cup has thus far amounted to a 68% increase in TV viewership over the event four years ago, according to Nielsen Media Research. Broadcasts of Team USA's group stage matches on ESPN, ABC, and Univision averaged 11.1 million viewers, with the USA-England match drawing 17.1 million.

Monday, June 21, 2010

One More Thing....

Sitting in the soccer stadiums of the World Cup when South Africa was playing, I was fascinated by the seeming spontaneity of the crowd singing an African hymn that was at once beautiful and spine chilling. It was about the only time the vuvuzelas fell silent, and it was an emotional experience to see tens of thousands South Africans -- black and white -- singing in unison and waving their vuvus to the rhythm of the chant-like beat. I was so moved by the haunting number that I asked the South African woman sitting next to me what it was called. She said "It's called Shosholoza, and we sing it at major sporting events like this." Subsequently, I learned that it means "go forward" and is a signature piece in Clint Eastwood's Invictus, by the a capella group, Overtone. You can listen to it here-->

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Next Up: London 2012!

Golden Bear is all packed up and ready to go for the next one!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Post Script

I must say that I was impressed by how the students immersed themselves in the total experiences that this program offered, and I was proud of how they conducted themselves as global citizens and goodwill ambassadors for the USA. Perhaps for some of them, this was a transformational experience that will spur them to a different calling than they previously mapped out for themselves (possibly in an international environment). But I think for all of them, it was also an eye-opening -- and hopefully empowering -- experience that made them realize that they can make a difference in other peoples' lives, as they did with the children of Soweto or by the simple act of giving someone a friendship flag pin. For me, this is one of the enduring benefits and highlights of these seminars abroad. I would like to thank my traveling partner and faculty chaperone, Dr. Dan Covell, who conducted the spring course and summer seminar, and who kept everyone in line and on schedule. Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to the students' parents for their support of their children in making this trip a reality, and for their trust and confidence in Western New England College in allowing me to take them to a country beset by some pretty serious problems and challenges. If the students' testimonials are any indication, I think I can safely declare 'Seminar Abroad 2010: FIFA World Cup/South Africa' a complete success, and start counting the days until 'Seminar Abroad 2012: London Olympic Games.'

Closing Thoughts

While the World Cup organizing committee was seriously challenged when it came to security, crowd control, concessions, traffic flow, signage, electricity, etc., it was on balance a magnificent and overwhelmingly positive experience. I have never been to a sporting environment -- Olympic or otherwise -- that rocked with such human joy and excitement! And not only at the four venues we visited, but also in the streets, squares, parks, and just about everywhere we went . . . the South Africans' passion and energy were off the charts!

Dr. Dan Covell

"In one of the many articles I reviewed concerning the World Cup, I read that many supporters of soccer in the United States take pains to try and convince others of the merits of 'the beautiful game.' The author noted that sports become more popular when the games speak for themselves. Such was the case in South Africa. It was a chance for a soccer novice like me to see the game played at its highest level. Also, who knew that you could get frostbite in South Africa?"

Dave Quackenbush '13

"Our seats at the World Cup matches were to die for, the atmosphere in the stadiums was crazy, and the fans' passion was electric! The trip was awesome; never did we have a moment that was boring or lame!"

Kevin Shaker '11

"The entire trip was unbelieveable, but for me the most memorable experience was walking into Soccer City Stadium and seeing the passion of the South African people and feeling their pride in hosting Africa's first World Cup!"

Michael Jones '11

"The whole experience opened my eyes to a world I had not seen before and made me realize just how fortunate I am. It was amazing, and I am already planning my next trip!"

Nick Starr '13

"This program went above and beyond my expectations! I saw firsthand how sport can unify a country; it was unreal, inspiring, emotional, amazing, and spectacular!"

Spencer Severs '12

"This trip gave me the opportunity to experience a totally different culture that I would not otherwise have had a chance to see. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I'm glad I took!"

Ally Ostler '12

"I learned a lot more about soccer and South Africa than I ever would have if I did not participate in this program. It was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience!"

Sean Healey '12

"For me, the most memorable part of the trip was the visit to Soweto; the images of how some of the poorest South Africans live and their desperate conditions were compelling...but not in a good way."

Dan Gould '11

"Unbelieveable! I loved every aspect of this program -- the matches, the sightseeing, the people -- I enjoyed it all! And now I can say that I went to the World Cup and toured South Africa!"

Shawn Fitzpatrick '12

"This was unlike any other experience in my life. I may attend another World Cup, but I will never have an experience like this again!"

Dave Fitzpatrick '10

"I'll probably never be able to experience anything like this again, and in some respects it was life changing. Also, seeing the USA compete in the World Cup is something that I will remember forever!"

Tim Conrod '11

"In a word, it was a 'stellar' experience! It was the perfect mix of new friends, culture, and international sport. Now, I would love to go to an Olympic Games to complete the picture!"

Home Sweet Home!

Friday, June 18, 2010--JFK International Airport. After more than a day of flying and waiting in airports, we returned safely to the USA this morning, and as you can see in the photo, everyone is present and accounted for! Admittedly, we are a bit tired, but I think the smiles tell the story! (Photo courtesy of Dennis Jones)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Time to Say "Bye-Bye"

It's hard to believe, but a week has flown by like the speed of light, and even though we packed in AT LEAST two weeks' worth of events and activities -- and a lifetime of FUN -- over the past eight days, tomorrow will be our last day in South Africa. Tonight, we will attend our fourth and final soccer match; this one between South Africa and Uruguay right here in Pretoria. Thus, this probably will be the last post from South Africa. If I am able to, I will send a post during our brief stopover in Dubai early Friday morning, and then I will conclude this blog with some personal reflections next week. It's been an incredible experience, and as has been said innumerable times . . . this truly has been an opportunity of a lifetime!

Tale of the CISB ID

Every member of our delegation has an identification card as seen in this photo, and besides making us look like we're VIPs, it has important emergency information on the reverse side. Significantly, however, this ID card has come in handy on several occasions that our driver, Mpho, was trying to get us closer to the soccer stadium for drop offs and pick ups. Somehow, we managed to talk our way past police and event security by "flashing our badge" and getting to a preferred spot within a short walk to the stadium entrance! Shhh . . . keep this on the down and low as we don't want to let the cat out of the bag!

Western New England College at the World Cup

I was informed that there might be a couple blog readers stateside who are PROSPECTIVE Western New England College students. Here's a shout-out to those of you who might still be on the fence about coming to our wonderful institution. Think about it: right now, at this very moment, we are at the FIFA World Cup . . . and we would love to have you join us on our next Seminar Abroad program, to the 2012 Olympic Games in London or the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil! Join the Western New England College family and become a Golden Bear!

Down Up Front!

Sean Healey records some of action on the pitch at Soccer City in Johannesburg.

Three Muskateers

Nick Starr, Dave Quackenbush, and Michael Jones stop for a photo while on tour at the FIFA International Broadcast Center.

Golden Bear Daily--Final Edition!

When he's not touring, shopping, and attending soccer matches, Dave Quackenbush writes and publishes the Golden Bear Daily on location in South Africa! You can read all about it at

Blog Alert and Reminder

Here's Tim Conrad at the TUT internet cafe, blogging away like a maniac! You can read it at

Seminar Finale

Today, Dave Quackenbush and Kevin Shaker presented their topic at seminar on the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which will be held in Brazil, the only five-time (as of today) champion.

Banner Redux

Recall an earlier post wherein I lauded several of our crew for fighting through the crowded banner-hanging real estate at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg. Well, here is another photo of what I was referring to! Virtually the entire stadium was ringed with English banners save for a couple American flags . . . one of which was hung by Western New England College students!

Institutional Exchange?

At our meeting with Tshwane University of Technology officials, preliminary discussions were had about a student and faculty exchange between Western New England College School of Business and TUT Division of Marketing, Logistics, and Sport Management in the near future.

Shown in photo from left are: Eric Rapuane, Will Grimes, Curt Hamakawa, Neels van Heerden, Dan Covell, Yvonne Joseph, and Shadrack Nthangeni.

Visit with TUT Students and Faculty

On June 15, we met with students and faculty of Tshwane University of Technology, who graciously hosted us to a delightful luncheon of traditional South African fare. Our students lauded the meeting as one of the highlights of the trip, because they had the chance to exchange information and ideas, and hold frank discussions with their South African college peers.

Travel Tip of the Day

When you visit South Africa, you will
need a three-prong plug adapter (you can see the wall outlet in photo), in addition to a transformer (black "box") that plugs into the plug adapter. For our power re-charging needs, I brought along a power strip with eight plug-in sockets, and as you can see, our re-charging operation was constantly in overdrive!

T-shirt Models

To reassure readers that I really am blogging from South Africa, here I am with our driver/guide, the one and only Mpho!

Venue Security

Security at the venues has been spotty, which is to say that it has been inconsistent and even nonexistent at times. For example, at last night's match between Brazil and North Korea at Ellis Park, for a while patrons were allowed entry without passing through the magnetometers or being subject to search . . . even though the equipment was right there! In photo, Kevin Shaker exults at his running the gauntlet and clearing "security"!

Break Time

All work and no play makes for a boring day, so one day we took a little break for a photo-op and short kick around of the soccer ball on TUT's (Tshwane University of Technology) rugby field. Dr. Covell and several students also took in some field hockey action at a tournament on campus.


Followers of the 2010 World Cup probably heard about the vuvuzela craze here! The vuvus are plastic South African stadium horns blown nonstop at soccer matches, which can reach ear-splitting levels! They sound like swarms of millions of bees, and they are everywhere!

Partisan Fans?

Here's another shot of some of our crew -- Ally Ostler, Sean Healey, Shawn Fitzpatrick, and Dave Fitzpatrick -- making their way through the security check point at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.

Looking for Inspiration

While visiting Soweto, the crew climbed a hill overlooking the vast township on the outskirts of Johannesburg, and stood atop the location where Enoch Sontonga took inspiration in writing the South African national anthem. (Hmmm . . . what is it about mountain tops and national anthems?)

Brazil vs. North Korea

On June 15, we attended the match between top-ranked Brazil and also-ran North Korea at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. The Northies held Brazil scoreless in the first half, before succumbing 2-1. Note to readers: It is winter in the southern hemisphere, and the temperature at game time was a frigid 32 degrees!

Shopping Deluxe

It seems that one of our delegation's favorite pastimes is shopping for sports gear and souvenirs for folks back home. Here, Spencer Severs, Tim Conrod, Shawn Fitzpatrick and Dr. Dan Covell make some purchases.

War Paint . . . Not!

Since some readers requested a photo of Dr. Dan Covell's make-up artistry seen in an earlier post, here is the result: his client, Spencer Severs, sports a rather conservative look when it comes to soccer-fan face painting!

Uncle Sam & Captain America

This photo of Tim Conrod and Dr. Dan Covell was taken before departing for the USA-England match. No other caption necessary!

Apartheid Museum

Since we were not permitted to take photos inside the Apartheid Museum that we visited on June 13, we took this one of the crew outside! The museum was another eye-opener for us, beginning with the entrance that required patrons to go through a turnstile marked "Whites Only" or "Blacks and Coloreds." The tagline was spot on: "The Apartheid Museum: Where Apartheid Belongs."

African Savanna

Here are some shots of the savanna where we went on the safari at Pilanesburg National Park and Game Reserve.