The Vuvuzela Effect

The Vuvuzela Effect

The vuvuzela from being a simple wind instrument is today a major phenomenon; part of popular culture and the symbol of South Africa. Meet the star of the FIFA World Cup 2010, the vuvuzela.

At the outset, let me state that I am a fan of the vuvuzela. It is not that every ticket-holder has a vuvuzela – however, when thousands of scattered fans around the stadium blow the vuvuzela the buzz it generates is different and the sort of different that is not annoying. Ear-plugs were available for the fans who found this noise disturbing, but, I chose to pass.

The vuvuzela is a difficult instrument to play. The tone and frequency of sound depends on the individual’s blowing technique and pressure exerted. Some talented fans were playing catchy tunes and some tried playing their team songs. The vuvuzela wrapped with the flag of the team they support is now an integral part of a football fan’s kit. And, it can be said with certainty that this World Cup will be known for the vuvuzela amongst other things.

In 2010, the hottest selling memorabilia is not a team jersey or the jabulani ball or the zakumi doll – it is the vuvuzela. And for years to come, it will be a favorite souvenir from South Africa. Such is the lasting legacy it will leave behind.

And many thanks to FIFA for rejecting the call to ban it!

Living the dream

The ninety minutes I spent at Soccer City amidst 85,000 crazily dressed, vuvuzela blowing fans was an incomparable, once-in-a-lifetime experience that will be always be a part of me. I knew this stadium experience cannot be felt anywhere else in the world.

The whole journey has been an emotional one. I applied for tickets on FIFA.com minutes after the first round of sales were opened and was ecstatic when my application was successful. There was so much drama and tension as I finalised my itinerary, made the bookings and obtained the South African visa. At the end of it all I got to see two of the greatest football super-powers in Brazil and Germany play live. I saw some of the finest players of our time in action. I almost got my face completely painted; sipped beer; blew the vuvuzela; did the samba; danced with the Ghanaians; cheered at the top of my voice and celebrated every second.

Cricket vs Football

As a sports fan, I have been privileged to watch quite a few sporting events live – NFL games, NBA play-offs, grand slam tennis and numerous cricket tests and one-day internationals. The stadium atmosphere and energy I experienced at either of these events is not even close to what I felt at Soccer City, Johannesburg.

Fans from virtually every nation on this planet landed in South Africa making it truly a global village. The reach of cricket is not this widespread and is hardly popular outside the subcontinent. Even in the heart of cricket-crazy India I cannot imagine a fully packed stadium or much fanfare for a cricket match between, say Kenya and Ireland. But, a jam-packed stadium and electrifying atmosphere is guaranteed in the football World Cup even if the two lowest ranked nations – North Korean and New Zealand are playing. And that, to me, makes all the difference.