‘Soccer star didn’t talk to me’

2010-06-24 15:33

Eight-year-old Khanyi Khumalo was one of the fortunate player

escorts to walk the Bafana Bafana and Mexico players to the opening game of the

first-ever Fifa World Cup to be hosted on African soil.


She said: “I was very excited and a bit nervous but mostly

excited.”


But it seems many players were too focused on their impending test

on the pitch to pay much attention to their young companions.


Khumalo’s charge for the day (June 11) was Mexico captain Gerardo

Torrado, who just held her hand and didn’t talk to her.


“He just said something to his team in a language I didn’t know,”

said Khumalo.


Feeling

sympathetic for Khumalo and her ilk would be misplaced, as it did not spoil

their experience.


McDonald’s had 1 408 player escort vacancies (1 275 from South

Africa and 133 from more than 40 countries) and had to choose from more than 200

000 applicants.


Katlego Mulikita, also 8, accompanied Ghana’s Dede Ayew in the

African country’s match against Australia on June 19. He also didn’t talk to

her, she says.


Mulikita said: “Some lady told us not to talk to them.”


When asked where Ghana was, Mulikita didn’t skip a heartbeat,

saying: “It’s in America.” she said.


“And Australia?” we asked.


“In America,” she replied.


Flag-bearer Tanele Dlamini says that carrying the flag onto the

pitch was a “once in a lifetime opportunity for me”.


The 15-year-old, whose favourite team is Ghana, said: “I was very

nervous.”


Dlamini carried the Fifa Fair Play flag during the Argentina versus

Nigeria match at Ellis Park on June 12.


Dlamini, who has started a female football team, says that they had

to rehearse five times before the match and her favourite part of the experience

was “seeing all the foreigners coming to our country and how we exceeded their

expectations”.


Mulikita says that hers was holding Ayew’s hand and making a new

friend in one of the other escorts, while Khumalo’s was singing the national

anthem with the players and millions of fans.

 

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