Nation catches the fever

Gauteng was high with World Cup fever this weekend as carnivals swelled Sandton and Soweto streets.

As 32 autographed Goodwill Balls that had been taken across the world ended their tour at Mushroom Park on Saturday.

The South African Goodwill Ball had been on a whirlwind tour of the country since the end of January, spreading football fever and tickets across the nation.

To welcome the world to South Africa and to celebrate the return of the giant goodwill balls, a street parade took over the streets of Sandton with more than 600 dazzling performers spreading football fever.

Zulu dancers, drum majorettes and stilt walkers were among the performers.

Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation, Gert Oosthuizen said: "Thank you to the epic Goodwill Ball Road Show, you have taken it to every corner of the country and helped ignite passion and excitement among football fans."

After the procession, people were entertained by award-winning artists Lira and Watershed. The Bafana Bafana game against Denmark was broadcast on open air screens at the park.

In Soweto, the Pale-Ya-Rona Carnival, which was held over three days, kick-started at an official opening at Mofolo Park and was followed by the 6km street parade through the streets of Mofolo, Orlando West and Dube on the second day.

Yesterday patrons were treated to a concert featuring top South African artists including Selaelo Selota, Thandiswa Mazwai, Pro Kid and Jonas Gwangwa.

There was a troupe made up of giant puppets including 320 wheelchair basketball players, 320 soccer legends and local players, 320 diski dancers, 32 ball jugglers, 320 Golden oldies and 32 stilt walkers as part of the 2010 Fifa World Cup festivity (the 32 being the number of countries represented in the World Cup).

Participants wore the colours of the 32 contesting countries and local soccer teams.

Gauteng MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, Nelisiwe Moerane said: "Since the beginning of the spectacle over the years, the Gauteng Carnival has been able to attract international interest."