Dream London trip touches hearts of lucky soccer fans

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

LONDON - The lives of 30 South African football lovers will never be the same after cellphone giant Vodacom spoilt them in England for six days.

They were taken on a tour of Manchester and London and attended two English Premiership matches featuring league champions Manchester United. The first match was between United and Portsmouth at Old Trafford last Wednesday, won 2-0 by Alex Ferguson's side.

They also attended a thrill-a-minute tie between United and Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in London on Saturday, which ended in a 1-all draw.

The 15 supporters and partners of their choice were in England after winning the Vodacom Challenge competition last year.

"I have never been treated like this in my life and I will never forget Vodacom for giving me an opportunity to be in Europe," said Sarah Selolo of Mamelodi.

Selolo has extra reason to be happy about the trip because her fiance, Johannes Sello, proposed to her on a boat in London on Friday night.

"I have been waiting for this moment for a long time and I'm happy today that I finally proposed to her and I can't wait for the big day in December," said Johannes.

Castro Fuba, 27, of George in Western Cape, said he had never dreamt of visiting London.

"It was a dream trip for me because I also had an opportunity to watch my favourite team [Manchester United] playing live," Fuba said.

The last time Fuba attended a soccer match was back in 2002 during the Telkom Charity Cup at Soccer City.

George Mukupa from Johannesburg said he learnt a great deal from the trip.

"I was impressed with the way the English supporters back their teams. They have specific songs for their teams and they don't sing similar song for their teams," he said.

"In South Africa we all sing Shosholoza at all our matches. Bloemfontein Celtic supporters, who have penned their own songs for their team, must have learnt something from the English fans."

Two Celtic fans, Ike Mokhele and Pule Masakale, said they had learnt new tricks from the English supporters.

Mziwandile Sonwabe from Port Elizabeth was equally ecstatic about the trip and thanked the cellphone company for affording him a rare chance to be in London.

The supporters were very impressed to see the Nelson Mandela statue at the Houses of Parliament, during their tour of the city of London.

They also visited local museums, theatres, restaurants and pubs and all cherished every minute of their stay despite the chilly weather.

lMcelwa Nchabeleng is in London courtesy of Vodacom.