Alexia Beckerling is a 2005 Career Training graduate and an accomplished photojournalist. A native South African, Alexia has had a front row seat to photograph the World Cup events and the fans. Her images capture the tournament’s inherent intensity and energy and her perspective on one of the world’s largest sporting events taking place in her backyard is fascinating. –Page Orb Pedde
When I heard that South Africa would be hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament I had my reservations. I wondered if my country, a fledgling and corrupt democracy recovering from the ravages of apartheid, would be able to carry it off. Billions of rands* miraculously appeared to build stadiums and upgrade the public transport system while the majority of the population lives in abject poverty with limited access to education and health care.
A handwritten sign held above the crowd in a fan park let me know that my skepticism was unfounded. “The Madiba (Mandela) magic is working!” it read. The tournament has been an astounding success, proving that an African country can handle a world-class event. South Africans from all walks of life have been united in supporting our team and welcoming foreigners to our shores. The last time I experienced such overwhelming patriotism was when Mandela walked to freedom in 1990. I am proud to be a member of what Desmond Tutu has called the “Rainbow Nation”.
I feel incredibly blessed to be able to witness this historic chapter in South Africa’s history. Being amidst exuberant fans from all over the world has been a visual feast. The soccer matches are only a part of the colorful, vibrant whole. I have mostly photographed people in the fan parks and streets of Cape Town. When Bafana Bafana scored two goals in quick succession against the French I was in the press corral in front of tens of thousands of fans at the Grand Parade. I failed jubilantly at being an impartial journalist, whooped and raised my camera high in the air.
Bafana Bafana has been knocked out but people are still brandishing the South African flag and rooting for Ghana. The resilience and spirit of African people runs deep and strong. Ayoba!