Monday, May 31, 2010

Complete Bafana Fan Kit

Here is the list of items that a proper fan of soccer in South Africa should have . . . but the absolute gotta-get souvenir for us Yanks is the vuvuzela, which is a traditional South African stadium horn! Note to students: don't forget to bring your ear plugs!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Boon or Bust?

For a comprehensive discussion on the economic, social, and psychological impact of the 2010 World Cup on South Africa and its people, you should consult "Development and Dreams: The Urban Legacy of the 2010 Football World Cup," which is a collection of essays by academics and policy experts on the effects -- good and bad -- of staging the grandest single-sport event on the planet.

You can download it for free at-->

Bon Voyage Team USA!

Yesterday, the USA Men's National Team came from behind to score two goals in the second half, defeating Turkey -- 2-1 -- in an international friendly at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field before 55,000+ partisan fans. Today, the team departed for South Africa from Dulles International Airport, and will set up its base camp outside of Pretoria in preparation for its World Cup opener June 12 against England.

What's in a Nickname?

South Africa's national rugby team is known as the Springboks (national animal) and its cricket team is referred to as the Proteas (national flower). Meanwhile, the country's national soccer team goes by the nickname "Bafana Bafana" (Zulu for "The Boys"), which aroused some controversy when former President Thabo Mbeki suggested that it was not a fitting name for the national side. Still, the moniker has stuck, and is now synonymous with the men's national team.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Big Ticket for South Africa

Sluggish World Cup ticket sales (about half a million tix are still available) and fewer projected foreign visitors than originally expected (200,000 versus 750,000) will result in a less-than-rosy picture for the organizing committee's bottom line. Combined with the $4.33 billion spent on preparations for the month-long tournament, it will not be surprising if there are some unhappy repercussions on South Africa's economic horizon. Tickets are finally being sold over the counter in the host country, but even the cheapest tickets at around $20 are out of reach for the many South Africans who live in abject poverty. Thus, South Africa's predicament raises the age-old question yet again: whether a country with severe economic and social challenges should bid for the honor -- and back-breaking financial burden -- of hosting such global events. Your thoughts?

South Africa's "National" Sports

While football, baseball and basketball rule in the USA as the most popular spectator sports, South Africa also prides itself as a sport-loving country, but with a very different line up. And this summer, the Rainbow Nation will join the UK as the only other country to have scored a trifecta in hosting the World Cups of rugby (1995), cricket (2003), and soccer (2010).

Friday, May 28, 2010

Gotta Get Rand!

The South African currency is called the rand (abbreviated "R" or "ZAR") and is currently trading at $1 = 7.59 ZAR (or 1 ZAR = .13). As you can see, the colorful bills come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 rand.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Academic Rigor, Anyone?

To disabuse readers of any notion that "Seminar Abroad 2010: FIFA World Cup/South Africa" is anywhere near a gut course, one need only know that the students -- under the tutelage of Dr. Dan Covell -- were required to read three books*, write two response papers, research and present on a course-related topic, submit a post-trip assessment of findings, and actively participate in in-country events and activities. Happily, most of the assignments were completed in the spring, which provided students with a fuller appreciation of the social, political, and economic dynamics of international soccer and modern-day South Africa.

*Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation, by John Carlin; Franklin Foer's How Soccer Explains the World; and A History of South Africa, by Leonard Thompson.

Global Sport: a slow but certain recovery

According to a report released May 26 by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the global sports market is showing signs of a recovery from the effects of the 2008-09 recession, with an average annual growth forecast of 3.8% through 2013. Fueled in part by the 2010 World Cup and 2012 Olympic Games, worldwide spending on sport is projected to increase from $114 billion in 2009 to $133 billion in 2013. Click below to read the PwC Report, "Back on Track? The Outlook for the Global Sports Market to 2013."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

South Africa Awaits!

The excitement is building! This Friday will mark the two-week countdown to the World Cup kick off on June 11 . . . and we will be at the Opening Ceremonies and first match between South Africa and Mexico in the brand new Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg! Dan Covell and I were lucky to experience the first Olympics in China, and in a few days -- along with 11 Western New England College students -- we will bear witness to the first World Cup in all of Africa!

Mile-High Stadiums

Even though none of the South African venues is anywhere near FIFA's high-altitude limit of 2,500 meters (8,200 feet), the Johannesburg stadiums -- Soccer City (at left) and Ellis Park -- are at 1,753 meters (5,751 feet), which is more than a mile in elevation!

USA-Czech Mates!

Western New England College Sport Management faculty members (left to right) Curt Hamakawa, Sharianne Walker, Harvey Shrage, and Dan Covell attended the May 25 USA-Czech Republic friendly at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. (The Czechs beat a mostly second-line USA side, 4-2.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Muchas Gracias, Alumni Association!

On behalf of the "travel team," I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Western New England College Alumni Association, President Mat Nelson '93, Alumni Relations Director Kathy Pappas G'98, and the members of the Grants Committee for providing us with a generous grant to help defray costs of this trip. While we met with some unanticipated expenses, this support will enable us to keep to our original plan without eliminating programming and/or assessing students additional fees. THANK YOU, ALUMs!

Tim Conrod's Parallel Blog is Live!

For a different -- or at least another -- perspective on the lead up to, actual trip, and aftermath of "Seminar Abroad 2010: FIFA World Cup/South Africa," I invite you to check out Tim Conrod's blog at He promises to feature highlights (and perhaps even some hijinks) of the delegation's experiences . . . although Golden Bear's motto is "What goes on the road, stays on the road!"

ESPN . . . the Place to Be!

In the U.S., ESPN owns the broadcast rights to the 2010 FIFA World Cup (to be staged June 11 to July 11), and will provide match coverage on ESPN, ESPN2, and ABC. In addition, audio listeners will be able to hear live broadcasts of every game on ESPN Radio. ESPN has been heavily promoting the World Cup in broadcast, digital, and print media, and you can find comprehensive information and see some really outstanding video segments -- including vignettes on every team -- on its website.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Introducing . . . Zakumi!

In case you were wondering . . . the official mascot of the 2010 World Cup -- Zakumi -- is a humanized leopard with green hair! Cute, perhaps, but it has nothing on Golden Bear!

Pre-World Cup Friendlies

Tomorrow, May 25, USA will face off against the Czech Republic at Rentschler Field in East Hartford in the first of two stateside friendlies dubbed the "Send-off Series." On May 29, the team will play Turkey at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Then on June 5 in South Africa, USA and Australia will tangle on the pitch in a final tune-up friendly for both World Cup-bound sides in Roodepoort, a suburb of Johannesburg.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

2010 World Cup Host Cities

From the layout of the host cities across South Africa, you can see why we chose Pretoria (Tshwane) as our home base . . . we are within easy driving distance to Johannesburg (40 miles) and Rustenburg (70 miles), and this decision will permit us to visit three cities and attend matches in four venues over a mere six days!

Fantastic Four!

Sometimes, you just get lucky. At this summer's World Cup, we feel like we hit the jackpot, having scored tickets to the June 11 opening ceremonies and kick-off match between South Africa and Mexico in Johannesburg/Soccer City. Then, on June 12, we will trek over to Rustenburg for the highly anticipated match between England and USA. On June 15, we will head back to Johannesburg/Ellis Park to see five-time World Cup champion Brazil take on North Korea, and finally on June 16, we'll get a second look at South Africa, this time against Uruguay in Pretoria. Can you believe it? We could not have gotten a better draw for the time that we will be there!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

South Africa at a Glance

Name: Republic of South Africa
Gained Independence: 1910 (from UK)
Land Mass: 471,443 square miles (slightly smaller than combined size of Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico)
Borders: Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Swaziland; with Lesotho wholly contained within the territory of South Africa
Per Capita Income: $10,243
Languages: 11 official and eight unofficial, but primarily spoken are Zulu, Xhosa, and Afrikaans
Currency: South African Rand (ZAR), current trading at approx. $0.127 or $1 = 7.85 ZAR
Population: 49.3 million (79% Black, 9% White, 9% Colored, 3% Asian)
Capital: Pretoria
FIFA World Cup: June 11-July 11, 2010
Expected Tourists: 350,000
No. Countries: 32
No. Matches: 64
No. Cities: 9 (Johannesburg, Rustenburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, Polokwane, Nelspruit, Port Elizabeth, and Bloemfontein)
No. Venues: 10 (two in Johannesburg)
No. Tickets: 2.5 million sold to date out of 3 million available
Seating Capacity of Johannesburg-Soccer City (venue for World Cup Final Match): 94,700

The Great Match

If you'd like to watch an interesting movie about the power of sport -- in this case, soccer -- to affect even the most remote inhabitants of the planet . . . then you should check out "The Great Match."

Got (Face) Paint?

Ordinarily, the only real essentials for international travel are a passport, tickets, and spending money. But we're talking the World Cup here, sports fans . . . so students are reminded to bring their face paint!

Friday, May 21, 2010

The 16th Man

If you haven't already seen it, you might be interested in viewing "The 16th Man," an ESPN documentary about Nelson Mandela's brilliant plan to foment national unity in post-apartheid South Africa through his open embrace of the mostly white Springboks national team leading up to the 1995 Rugby World Cup in Johannesburg, and the emotional transformations on both sides of the racial divide.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Where (exactly) in the World is South Africa?

The Republic of South Africa is located at the southern tip of the African continent, and is bordered by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Swaziland; while the independent country of Lesotho is wholly contained within the territory of South Africa.

Golden Bear

"GB" has been sitting around and waiting (im)patiently since returning from China in 2008, and is anxious to join the Western New England College CISB delegation as its official mascot for "Seminar Abroad 2010: FIFA World Cup/South Africa" when the group departs from campus on June 8 at 5 a.m.! Ally Ostler will be GB's head bear keeper/chaperone!

Dr. Dan Covell

Dr. Dan Covell is my Western New England College colleague who has been leading the seminar stateside this spring and will continue to do so in country this summer. He accompanied me on the CISB's first international trip -- Seminar Abroad 2008: Beijing Olympics -- and will again serve as faculty chaperone to the World Cup. Dr. Covell, who has been known to subsist on Diet Coke, splits his time between homes in Concord, MA, and Brunswick, ME.

Sean Healey

Going to the World Cup has long been a dream of Sean's and he will soon have his chance! Sean is from Portland, CT, and although he has never been outside the USA, he is intrigued by the melting pot of cultures that will be present in South Africa this summer.

Shawn Fitzpatrick

Shawn, who along with his brother Dave, and fellow travelers Nick Starr and Sean Healey, all play soccer for the Golden Bears of Western New England College, under the guidance of Coach Erin Sullivan. Since Shawn is game to experiencing a new culture and trying new foods, maybe we'll get him to sample some kudu (antelope) or crocodile while in South Africa!

Nick Starr

Along with Dave Quackenbush, Nick was the first to sign up for Seminar Abroad 2010: FIFA World Cup/South Africa! In fact, he and Dave wanted me to know that they were definitely "in" even before the announcement and application were posted! Nick is from Somers, CT, and has previously traveled to Costa Rica.

Spencer Severs

Spencer is from Woodstock, CT, and a little-known fact about him is that he was born in Colombia. Even though he loves to play and watch ice hockey and rugby, he is looking forward to seeing the very best of international soccer at the 2010 World Cup.

Michael Jones

Michael is from Stone Ridge, NY, and besides attending the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, he already has his sights on someday visiting New Zealand, Egypt, and China. As a tennis player, Michael hopes to attend the four major Tennis Opens (so it is curious that he left off Australia, France, and the UK from his country list!).

Dave Quackenbush

Dave, who is from East Hampton, CT, has already been to Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, England, Scotland, and Brazil; and besides being a soccer aficionado, he signed up for this trip because wants to be able to say that he went to South Africa to witness the first World Cup on the continent! He's counting down the days . . . .

Dan Gould

Dan is from Newton, MA, and spent the spring 2010 semester in Australia on a study-abroad program. A little known fact about Dan is that he loves to cook . . . which I guess qualifies him to be the delegation chef! (Memo to DG: start researching some good "potjiekos" recipes!)

Tim Conrod

Tim's first trip outside the USA -- and for that matter, anywhere on an airplane -- will be this summer to South Africa to attend the FIFA World Cup! Now, how cool is that! Tim is from Bristol, CT, and will doing the "Golden Bear Blog" . . . stay tuned for web address!

Kevin Shaker

Kevin is an avid soccer fan and is looking forward to seeing his first World Cup live, up close, and in person! He is from North Adams, MA, and is majoring in communication.

Ally Ostler

Ally is from Sharon, Vermont, and for someone who is dreading the 13-hour flight from JFK to Dubai and the 8-hour connecting flight to Johannesburg . . . she LOVES to travel abroad, and has already been to Germany, Austria, Italy, and Ireland! Next stop: South Africa via the United Arab Emirates!

Dave Fitzpatrick

Dave, who hails from Burnt Hills, NY, is a self-described soccer fanatic who has played and followed the sport from when he was little. He, too, is well traveled, having already visited Italy, Germany, Austria, and Canada.

Photo-Op with the Dean

Several members of the CISB "traveling squad" presented School of Business Dean Julie Siciliano with a delegation t-shirt. From left, Prof. Curt Hamakawa with Western New England College soccer players Nick Starr, Shawn Fitzpatrick, and Sean Healey.

Last Day of Classes

On May 7, student members of "Seminar Abroad 2010: FIFA World Cup/South Africa" held their wrap-up session -- the last of a series of orientation/planning meetings this spring -- prior to leaving campus for the summer.