Durban Football Match, South Africa

The Night I Felt The Powerful Vibe Of South Africa

Derek South Africa 34 Comments

Durban Football Match, South Africa
Forget about the wildlife. Forget about the wines and the mesmerizing coastline. You might as well forget about the diverse cuisine and the adventure activities for a moment as well.

This post is going to highlight another aspect of South Africa, an aspect that probably had more of an impact on me than any of the others during my recent visit.

I’m talking about the ENERGY baby!

Before I arrived in South Africa, I had heard from several travelers that as soon as one arrives in the country, you can instantly ‘feel’ Africa. You can feel the vibe, feel the life, feel that energy.

And I felt it alright.

However, it wasn’t until our wonderful Durban tour operator picked us up one evening and drove us over to the strikingly impressive Moses Madiba Football Stadium that I came to fully appreciate the unique, powerful and without a doubt, addicting, positive energy of South Africa.

Somehow, our South Africa Tourism host managed to secure us tickets to a football match between the Orlando Pirates and the Bidvest Wits, which was quite a feat considering that this match happened to be the Finals of the Telkom Charity Cup.

But the thing is, as soon as we walked through the entrance of the stadium, slithered our way through the crowds and found some seats just a few rows from the field, I realized that the game itself didn’t really matter.

Moses Madiba Football Stadium, Durban

It might as well have been a team of Smurfs playing against a team of balloon animals, as the highlight of the evening involved not what was taking place on the field, but what was taking place in the stands. I hardly noticed the actual football match as I was immediately swooped up in the extraordinary energy created by the 50,000+ people in attendance.

What I witnessed was a massive party, with a football match taking place in the background. Everyone danced wildly, blew into their vuvuzelas, waved their flags, shook their bodies, jumped in the air, swayed together, sang together, clapped their hands (to the rhythm of the music in the stadium not to the play on the field)…without taking a rest for the entire first half. And the fact that every single person in that stadium had such a huge smile on their face just made the already festive atmosphere a heck of a lot more festive.

Here’s a video taken by our SA Tourism host during the game that shows what I’m talking about…

Of course, once the first half came to an end, I relaxed a little in my seat, sipped my beer and prepared for a twenty-minute break in the action. But, silly me, little did I know that half-time was going to be even crazier (and I mean that in the best possible way) and more spirited than when there were actually players on the field competing for a championship.

The party did not just continue, but incredibly, it somehow managed to grow in intensity as soon as the players were in the locker rooms.

At one point, I started thinking about sporting events back in the US where stadiums must put on quite an elaborate half-time show in order to keep the crowd from falling asleep. But here in South Africa, the half-time show consisted of eight people sitting on a flag in the middle of the field. Basically, there was no half-time show at all.

Instead, there was a person up in the sound booth who cranked up the hypnotic music even louder until the entire stadium was dancing, shaking and jumping around more than ever.

And this went on for the entire twenty minutes of half-time. It was simply an amazing thing to watch. There were no fights, no arguments, no rude or curse-laced chanting. There was dancing and hugging and laughing.

Durban Football Match

Football Fans, Durban, South Africa

Vuvuzela, Durban Football Match

I don’t think there’s a single human being on this planet who, after spending time in a South African football stadium, would not be in the happiest, most joyful and absurdly giddy mood imaginable. It’s just not possible to sit in that stadium and successfully deflect the energy swirling everywhere around you.

And why would you want to do that anyway? The world needs more places where 50,000 people gather to celebrate life. That’s essentially what was taking place. It was one massive celebration based on the understanding that we are all in control of our own happiness.

Why sit around and watch a sporting event in near silence, perhaps occasionally letting out a cheer or two, when you can stand up, shake your body, twist and shout, bond with those around you and guarantee that you all have one insanely memorable, entertaining and enjoyable experience!

So, as the ‘life party’ continued throughout the second half of this football match, as the rain came down, the beers were sipped, photos were taken, high-fives were exchanged and new friends were made, I could not help but feel overwhelmingly overjoyed, not only about being in South Africa and experiencing the ‘vibe’, but simply about being alive.

And that’s about as rewarding a travel experience as it gets.

*For Durban accommodation options, we recommend checking AccommoDirect.com


Have you ever been to a place with such energy or experienced anything like this?

*This trip was sponsored by South Africa Tourism. Several photos above are courtesy of Matt from ExpertVagabond.com whose photographic skills I simply can’t compete with.

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Comments 34

  1. Superplanner71

    How easy was it to get tickets for a match

    And was it dodgy travelling to/from the grounds?? How would you advise to get to/from a ground in Joburg.

    Anton

    1. Earl

      @Superplanner71 – The tickets were purchased just a couple of days before the match. And it wasn’t dodgy at all traveling to the grounds…but we were in Durban, not Joburg, so I don’t know what it would be like in that city.

  2. Jennifer

    I am going to South Africa this summer to study abroad, this article has gotten me SO much more excited than I already am!! Thank you so much!!! This was an awesome read!

    1. Earl

      Hey Jennifer – That’s awesome!! You are going to have such a great summer down there. And I’m sure you’ll feel that unique vibe as soon as you land, just like I did!

  3. Erin

    I’m not a sports fan but it sounds like a similar experience to watching the futbol in Rio. Although I couldn’t really follow the game it was fun to watch the crowds going crazy with fireworks and samba drums.

    1. Earl

      Hey Erin – I’d imagine that would be very similar. And I have no idea what happened at the game we went to. I don’t know who won, I don’t know the score, I don’t even remember if anyone did score a goal. The entire time I was focused on the crowd as I’m sure you were in Rio!

    1. Earl

      Hey Dan – Thanks for the invitation and I’ll be sure to take a look at your site. I’m not sure if I have much time to put together a guest post at the moment but if I can squeeze some time in, I’ll be in touch!

  4. Kristin

    That sounds amazing. We are coming to visit in April and will be stopping by Durban as well. Do you know how would we go about getting tickets or seeing if there was a game going on?

    1. Earl

      Hey Kristin – I just checked and here is a link to the Premier Soccer League’s schedule for the year…http://www.psl.co.za/fixtures.asp?id=794

      There are a few games at this stadium in Durban (Moses Mahdiba Stadium) during that month so might be able to catch a game! As for tickets, I’m not too sure how it works but I’d imagine that for local, non-championship games, you’ll probably be able to get them when you arrive in Durban, either through the place you’re staying or directly from the box office. Just ask at your hotel/hostel and I’m sure they can help…and it will definitely we well worth it!!

  5. Amanda

    This sounds awesome!! I remember watching a bunch of World Cup matches 2 years ago and getting chills thinking about what the energy must have been like in those stadiums. I think it has something to do with the vuvuzelas…

    Haha, but no, in all honesty, I’ve never experienced anything with quite this “vibe” in person before, but I sure would love to!

    1. Earl

      Hey Amanda – Based on the atmosphere of the game we went to, I cannot even begin to imagine what it would have been like during the World Cup! And I do think the vuvuzelas play a role as that constant buzz, which is so much louder in person, makes sure that the energy in the stadium never fades.

  6. Chris Blyth

    I noticed you got sponsored by South Africa tourism which is great, and one might think it would influence your bias, but I could’nt help but get a good feeling from the way you described your experience there, Great Work !

    1. Earl

      Hey Chris – There’s definitely been no influence with any of my posts. While it was a sponsored trip, I would not have accepted it if there was any obligation at all to write about my experiences in a positive way. In fact, there was no obligation to write anything. But what I’ve chosen to write about are the things that really had an effect on me and as always, my goal on this site is to help others start traveling themselves and to show that the world is not the dangerous place many of us believe it to be!

    1. Earl

      Thanks Mica! I honestly love writing about that country as it gets me in such a good mood. While this football match was the peak of energy during the trip, there certainly was no shortage of it every single place we visited.

    1. Earl

      Hey Mina – It is indeed contagious…you can’t help look at one person in that stadium and not want to stand up and join the party yourself!

  7. Jeremy Branham

    BINGO!!! Now you see why sports is a HUGE part of what I do in travel (hence the new series from the past year – the College Football Travel Tour). I have found that going to sporting events is a great way to connect with the culture and really have some awesome experiences. I try to do this everywhere I go. Went to a match in Barcelona a few years back and it was awesome!

    1. Earl

      Hey Jeremy – I agree with you, especially when it involves fans that are so passionate about having a good time! In this case, the game seemed so much less important than the ‘party’ which certainly played a role in making this a unique cultural experience…

    1. Earl

      Hey Lane – I’d imagine there are concerts with a similar vibe althouh I’ve never been to one quite as lively as this football match myself!

  8. Dayna

    Wow, that sounds incredible. I did crack up at the idea of smurfs battling balloon animals, but your life party sounds much more entertaining! Can’t wait to get there someday.

    1. Earl

      Hey Dayna – Smurfs vs balloon animals would be entertaining for a few minutes I’m sure…but still, I would choose the life party over that any day!

    1. Earl

      Hey Rachelle – It did sound like a massive beehive to the point where it sounded strange not to hear those vuvuzelas after we left the stadium 🙂

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