Village gives a complete World Cup experience

FORGET government ministers or so-called celebrities who are paid handsomely to tell us "feel it, it is here", punting the coming World Cup.

I have not really paid too much attention. Until I went to the opening of the International Soccer Village at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg I had not felt World Cup fever.

For a few hours, while touring the village, I was under the illusion that the World Cup had already started. That, I think, was because three out of every five guests at the event wore soccer T-shirts.

The village is an initiative of South African and German business partners, who say they came up with the idea to ensure that soccer fans enjoyed the sport in a friendly environment.

The village will be open every day for the duration of the tournament, which starts on June 11 and ends on July 11. And each day there will be live performances by local artists such as Jamali, Garth Taylor and Loyiso.

Each night before a match, a soccer night party will rock the village with live entertainment by musicians and DJs.

If what Taylor dished out at the launch was a foretaste, soccer fans visiting the village are in for some tantalising performances.

Apart from live performances there will also be a postmortem of every game the following day, with soccer experts and players of yesteryears sharing their views.

The village is said to be the only one of its kind in the world.

There will be something for everyone, with big screens, bars and a makeshift shebeen to allow visitors to mingle and network with other fans from across the globe.

And in true shebeen style, patrons will be served quarts, not dumpies, around a fire, while a DJ will be pumping the volume. Here you will be served South African dishes such as beef stew, pap, dumpling and tripe.

A Brazilian beach bar, a Bavarian beer hall and German Fan Mile, as well as corporate rooms, o adds to the character of the village. The Maracan Stadium will allow fans and players to test their skills in a five-a-side tournament.

There will be restaurants and pubs in abundance throughout the village to give those who couldn't afford to attend the matches and opportunity to enjoy the beautiful game in a complete World Cup experience.

The village's chief executive, Mike de Vries, said the idea was to showcase true South African hospitality.

"As the host nation we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity not only to enjoy the event but to become part of it and showcase true, warm South African hospitality," De Vries said.