'Cup stewards do it for country'

THEY are a familiar sight at all World Cup venues around the country - men and women in bright orange jackets, with their backs to the action on the pitch.

The arrive four hours before kickoff and leave up to two hours after the final whistle.

They are the World Cup stewards and *John Dube (not his real name) is one of them. He and an army of 3500 police trainees have been assigned stadium duty until July 11.

Dube and other trainees are getting the toughest discipline training possible. It seems cruel and unusual punishment but the stewards facing away from the field during World Cup matches say they are doing it for the country.

Dube has been doing duty at the Soccer City and Ellis Park stadiums.

"I did not know when I joined the police force that I would have to do this but I am proud to serve my country."

He said they were not allowed to turn around to get a glimpse of the action on the field.

"I do get tempted sometimes, especially when a team like Brazil or Argentina is playing. It's about discipline. I cannot turn around unless it is a security-related incident," he said.

"We received one week's training for this soccer showpiece. Our police training classes have stopped, but I am still studying so that I will be ready for my exams.

"It is interesting to note that more tourists than locals blow vuvuzelas during games.

"The Mexican wave is always a pleasure to watch. There are some regular fans that I recognise. It's also easy to spot them because they have the same celebration routine.

"Everyone seems to be having so much fun. It's great. Unfortunately I think they are too strict because we do not rotate with the other stewards so that we can face the action, but it's about discipline."