Local administrators should learn from Germany

Well, well, Mr Banda, what is it with today that you ask if you can express the hope that you find us well? Is it not that every other day you just proceed to express that hope immediately after indicating the day and date?

In other words that you never seek our opinion? So what is different now?

Well, well, my friends, every other day I proceed to express the hope because I would be fearing that you may not be well and so I move on on a positive tip. But today I just get the feeling that you may all be well and so my doubt if I should push on, on a positive tip.

Why do you get the feeling that you find us well?

Ah, well, question after question. You see it is that time of our lives when the average person is well but just feigns sickness so that they can stay at home and follow, undisturbed, the world’s greatest soccer showcase. So that they can watch, undisturbed, the world’s second greatest sporting spectacle.

Second? Yes, after the Olympic Games. Really? Of course: the greatest single-sport spectacle but the second greatest overall.

And so the 18th edition of the Fifa World Cup soccer tournament continues in Germany. Group action will continue until Friday, with sides content to grind out results and just get the valuable three points to add to another set to gain admission into the round of 16 whencefrom matters assume a new dimension: winners win, losers go home.

Watching from the comfort of your home, sitting on your favourite sofa or rocking chair or bean-bag or some such apparatus as takes your fancy, you may be wondering what all the fuss was about in the build-up to opening night.

Seriously, you may be asking why there was so much concern about whether everything would be alright on the night because indeed everything is going on alright now all round Germany.

Ah, so. The story is that the man behind Germany 2006 likes excelling at 16-yearly intervals. In 1974, Franz Beckenbauer captained Germany to World Cup victory on home soil. Then the World Cup had a new trophy, with the Jules Rimet having been given to Brazil, and a new format with two group stages. The Kaiser and company beat Holland 2-1 in the final, leaving Johan Cruyff and the exponents of Total Football as the most talented team never to win the World Cup. Paul Breitner cancelled out a Johan Neeskens penalty

before Gerd Muller made the difference just before half-time. In 1990, in Italy, Beckenbauer coached Germany to World Cup victory, with a one-nil win over the Azeglio Vicini-coached and Salvatore Schillaci-driven Italy.

Andreas Brehme converted from the spot. And now, in 2006, the man is threatening to unleash on an innocent world the best World Cup ever.

So the show goes on. Of course, the Kaiser cannot influence playing styles and systems so that each and every match of Germany 2006 is a mouthwatering affair. But his team is ensuring that that which is in their power to influence they are doing so, and doing so positively.

That is all that we ask.

I was excited therefore, to hear of the amount of cooperation going on between those behind Germany 2006 and officials of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for South Africa 2010.

For example, NFB Stadium manager Dennis Mumble is working as assistant general coordinator responsible for Fifa operations in Cologne. His work is centred on the Rhine Energy Stadium, the 46 120-seater facility that is the home of FC Cologne. But the former South Africa Football Association boss is not there on Bundesliga business. He is there on World Cup business. He is there to gain experience first-hand: working with security personnel, volunteers and such-like to ensure, in the immediate, that Germany 2006 is a veritable success and, in the medium term, that South Africa 2010 certainly matches, if not surpasses, Germany and that, long-term, we have capacity.

That is as it should be.

At the end of the tournament, which runs from the ninth of this month to the same date next month, Mumble will return to South Africa no doubt all the richer for the experience. For indeed, what beats being at the coal-face?

Indeed, no amount of well-meaning and well-intended theory can replace the value of praxis. You listen, you hear, you forget. You do, you remember.

Mumble will return home and, undoubtedly, his learnings from Germany 2006 will rub off on his colleagues in Danny Jordaan’s LOC office for South Africa 2010.

He also has another very important task: running the FNB Stadium. Remember, this is the flagship for 2010. It is here that the tournament will open, and it is here that the tournament will close. Dare I say that it also here that the tournament will succeed or fail, that is away from the play.

As he also continues running the FNB Stadium and working to make sure it will be ship-shape come the time, Mumble now also has additional resources and skills gleaned from Germany to unlock or add value, whatever the case may be.

That is as it should be.

As for everyone else, continue to enjoy the 2006 Fifa World Cup soccer tournament. Do what you have to do to see the games you want to see. But remember that the games you want to see are played against the background of the Fifa spirit of Fair Play. Question: can you enjoy watching an event built around fair play if in your build-up to watching the play you played foul?

Consider too one Philip Stubbes from way back when. He lived from about 1555 to 1610. In Anatomy of Abuses in 1583, Stubbes said: “Football . . . causeth fighting, brawling, contention, quarrel picking, murder, homicide and great effusion of blood, as daily experience teacheth.”

Do continue to enjoy the games!

June 2006
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