Balgowan hotelier tells how he lured Team Paraguay for World Cup

2010-09-16 00:00

“WHEN I heard the news that we are going to host the soccer World Cup, I said we are going to have a team staying in the midlands.”

So said Alistair McGlashan of Woodridge Country Hotel at Balgowan, when he shared his experiences in hosting the Paraguayan football national team during the 2010 Fifa World Cup with local business people yesterday.

McGlashan, who co-owns the hotel with his wife, Sue, described how he secured Team Paraguay.

He said he knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to market and promote the midlands to the international community.

“In the beginning I was hoping that I would secure a European national team, and I never thought that I will be hosting team Paraguay,” he said.

He went to Germany to gather information from people in the know who had experience of hosting teams during t he 2006 World Cup.

“I met various soccer federations in Europe in order to know what I was getting myself into, which proved to be a valuable exercise, even though I did not get a European side to stay at Woodridge,” said McGlashan.

He said his strategy was to use his hotel and the impressive infrastructure at Michaelhouse to entice foreign teams.

He said Fifa sent a delegation to evaluate the hotel before it was approved.

“After Fifa approved the facilities, we thought we had finished. However, it was still a long way to go because the Paraguayans had to do their own evaluations before agreeing to stay in the midlands,” he said.

The Paraguayans had a long list of demands, but the hotel was able to deliver with the help of local business owners.

“The altitude played a vital role for us to host Paraguay … and they liked the fact that we were able to provide the kind of privacy that their team required in order to focus on the game,” McGlashan added.

He said hosting the team brought good exposure for the midlands because during the World Cup the area was well marketed in South America.

Besides running the hotel, McGlashan is an active strategic business consultant for a number of blue-chip companies locally and abroad.

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