Friday, 22 January 2010

Wedded blisters for Germans as they prepare for the World Cup in the middle of nowhere

THE German World Cup base at the idyllic Velmore Estate near the tiny suburb of Erasmia in South Africa has been transformed into a builder's site just four months before Michael Ballack and his team head to South Africa in search of global conquest.
The five-star hotel complex which lies about 10 miles west of Pretoria, will be home to the German team and officials from the end of May - but one crucial factor, a suitable training pitch, has only just got underway.
Management at Velmore, a popular venue for local weddings, have been forced to dig up the grassy bank running down to the Hennops River - bringing in diggers and ground-levelling equipment to build a fenced-off, state-of-the-art surface for the German team.
And that has left well-off locals, seeking the site as a wedding venue, in a bit of a stew.
A spokesman for Velmore said: "We researched local grounds in the area for the Germans to train on but we couldn't find anything suitable close by. We are at the perfect altitude for their team to prepare, we just didn't have a pitch.
"Now we've begun work on the surface, as you can see. This hotel was only finished in November of last year and everything is going into preparing for the arrival of the German team. We are teaching our staff to speak the language where possible and must do everything we can to make their stay here as comfortable as we can.
"Unfortunately, the building of the pitch has meant we have had to postpone weddings at our venue, which was just becoming popular for top-of-the-range marriage celebrations.
"But we are telling people we will be back to normal as soon as possible. The pitch will be turfed with a mixture of rye grass and local kikuyu, providing an instant surface. It will stay green even in the winter when we get frost and no rain here.
"The only difference for people getting married here is that they will have a flat surface rather than a grassy bank sloping down to the river. The goalposts will only be up for the duration of the German's stay."
Velmore is, as our pictures show, a remarkable five-star complex built, essentially, in the middle of nowhere, backed by local money and overseas funding from India - many such sites are mushrooming around the Johannesburg and Pretoria areas in the build up the Africa's first World Cup.
Behind an imposing frontage, one half of the hotel has already been shut down in preparation for Germany's arrival. The wedding venue (see picture) sees couples march along an aisle which stretches into the middle of the main swimming pool with guests surrounding the poolside. The football pitch will be right in the line of sight of the official making the union.
Velmore also offers a brand new spa facility with oxygen chambers and remarkable presidential suite complete with a room for a bodyguard - but for the thousands of German fans expected to want to see the team train, there is no obvious accomodation within ten miles of the hotel.
A nearby camp-site has been ear-marked for the German fans but with temperatures plummeting below zero on the highveld - the area is about 1500m above sea-level, the same as the average ski resort in Austria - and concerns over security, it is likely the fans will have to pay inflated costs for accomodation in Centurion 10 miles away or Sandton, about 20 miles distant.
England's base in Rustenburg, a further 50 miles away from both the major middle-class residential areas, raises similar concerns as locals seek to profit from the month long football extravaganza.

No comments:

Post a Comment