||09 May 2010 07:00
|Show: ||Carte Blanche|
Midlands Kwa-Zulu Natal... As English as 'tea' and 'cream scones', The Woodridge Country Hotel nestles in the heart of this countryside overlooking the Balgowan Valley - a glorious retreat for romantic weddings.
Derek Watts (Carte Blanche presenter): 'This is the chapel in the gardens - a popular wedding venue; normally couples taking their sacred vows. A very different gathering today as you can hear, but I'm going in.'
No - this is not a new age spiritual gathering... This is the welcoming committee's training session for Team Paraguay. And this hotel will be the team's base during the World Cup.
Alistair McGlashan (Owner): 'When it was announced the World Cup would happen, I thought, 'This is an opportunity we can't miss'.''
It was back in 2006 when owners of the Woodridge Hotel, Alistair and Sue McGlashan, set about marketing their hotel as a base camp for a World Cup team.
Derek: 'It's a complicated procedure isn't it?'
Alistair: 'It's a long complicated procedure, ja. We put in application and then it took about a year before FIFA really started getting all their inspections together.'
Derek: 'So, first of all, you've got to satisfy the FIFA requirements, then you can offer the hotel to all the teams competing?'
Alistair: 'Yes. We put together a CD and we took it around to various countries in Europe. Mainly that's where we promoted, I think, because of the language issue and, as it turned out, South America loved us and, you know, we didn't plan for that.'
But being consummate professionals they wasted no time in getting their employees, from the grounds staff, waiters to hotel manager, learning the language.
Monica Villalobos (Spanish teacher): 'So if I say, 'Ola!' what do you say?'
Peruvian economist Isabel Arzeno and Argentinian journalist Monica Villalobos were brought on board.
Derek: 'What's it? Bienvenidos?'
Monica: 'Welcome, ja.'
Derek: 'Get some passion going here!'
Monica: 'The Football World Cup to us Latin Americans is like [a] very big event every four years. And people save money to go to the World Cup. It's like the country completely stops.'
Isabel Arzeno (Spanish teacher): 'I think we are trying to transmit [to] them what we Latins feel about football, which is a lot of passion. So that's what we're trying to do with the singing.'
Monica: 'There is something we share... Africans and Latin Americans share passion for music and, with some of them, the passion for football as well.'
Derek: 'Now the Spanish lessons, are they coming along nicely?'
Alistair: 'Progressing slowly, yes (laughs).'
Derek: 'Right, what we do is just whisk it up [eggs on screen], but not too much, you know... some onion, a little bit more onion, peppers. I'm whipping up a little Spanish omelette for the team, but I've got a feeling their requirements might be a little more sophisticated; like this list here just for one day. And what have we got? Beef Tenderloin Medallions with soybean sauce, Meat and Seafood Paella... Um, Nabushle, I think we've got a bit of work to do.'
Nabushle: 'Ja, you've got a lot.'
Derek: 'I've got a lot, hey?'
Derek: 'I like stories where you can eat a lot.'
Alistair: 'They eat buffet all the way and they eat lots of meat. One has to plan with the doctor the nutritional aspect of it, and the quantities each player will eat every day. But we are very transparent about what the costs are and everything, and the chef who comes with them and his assistant will go to our suppliers and choose what they want and then we order it in and we help them. But they cook everything.'
Derek: 'But it seems that the Paraguayans may not have to pay for the food bill?'
Alistair: 'It could be that. We are having discussions with government today about helping them sponsor the food costs, and it seems as though they will come to the party. I know that other teams like Algeria have been helped by local government here.'
It is marketing manager Shelley Herbst who has to sort out the somewhat odd requests.
Shelley Herbst (Marketing Manager): 'A lot of people have the romantic notion of 'they're just going to arrive, and that's it'. But there are many things that need to be taken into consideration. We've had to look at security; we've had to look at staff. All the staff have had to go through security checks.'
Derek: 'It's in one of ten luxurious cottages on the estate that Paraguay's best will be accommodated. Every cottage is identical - from the furnishings to the flat screen televisions, being exactly the same size to the cm - we don't want any petty jealousies.'
Shelley: 'They are afraid if one has more than the other there will be drama later on when the pressure is really on. So the requirements for every team member [have] to be as similar as possible so there is no perceptive favouritism.'
What helped swing the deal was next door Michaelhouse school's cricket pitch, which will be the team's training venue. But they won't be paid for it. In headmaster Guy Pearson's book it's doing something for your country.
Guy Pearson (Headmaster: Michaelhouse): 'The game of soccer is one of the fastest-growing in a school like this... like Michaelhouse, which traditionally was a cricket and rugby school. But there's massive interest and the boys are keen and enthusiastic and it'll be great for the school.'
Derek: 'So you hope to interact with them at some stage? I know there are strict regulations.'
Boy 1: 'I hear they are bringing their junior team, so that will be an interesting if we can get a game against junior team.'
Boy 2: 'We'll be the first supporting Paraguay. As long as we get a couple of training sessions with them, Paraguay will have 550 loyal supporters from here at least.'
Derek: 'This was the cricket pitch, but you can't expect the Paraguayans to play soccer on it. So, what they did was take all the grass off, level it out to the very last centimetre, put that Kikuyu grass back, and then seed it with this top dressing with Rye glass, and it should be perfect by late May... so Lucky says.'
And Lucky Modise should know. He's been responsible for the turf on some of our World Cup stadia like Moses Mabede Stadium.
But a Paraguayan delegation that visited earlier [were] worried.
Lucky Modise (Turf Manager): 'They were here this morning. I promised them by the middle of May everything will be complete.'
Derek: 'Did they get a shock that it's still quite a long way to go?'
Lucky: 'Ja, they did. They're not sure if it'll be finished; but late May it'll be ready.'
Derek: 'So, are you enjoying the build up to the World Cup?'
Lucky: 'Ja, I am enjoying a lot. At least I can say tomorrow, 'I did something for the World Cup.''
Derek: 'Local pubs like Nottingham Road or 'Notties' as they call it, should be flooded with fans and TV crews during the World Cup, but it's off limits to the Paraguayan players. No cerveza for them at all.'
Shelley: 'The coach has made it very clear that there is to be no alcohol served to any team members during practice or in their off times and they are here to work not to play. So - no partying, no girls, no getting out, no socialising; unfortunately, it will be hard work for this team.'
Derek: 'But we know boys will be boys.'
Shelley: 'They are very flirtatious apparently; we have been warned. They love female attention and I think that's why the coach is a little bit worried and has sent a very clear message now that he wants to keep the women away from them as much as possible. We are confined to this building.'
But there's plenty of temptation in this so-called 'confinement' at Woodridge Country Hotel - Isabel and Monica will be acting as interpreters for the team.
Monica: 'So we are going to be like hosts to the team.'
Derek: 'But please don't distract them too much.'
Monica: 'Well, they need some distraction a little bit from time to time; there [is] no girls around hello.'
Derek: 'Someone has got to do the job.'
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:While every attempt has been made to ensure this transcript or summary is accurate, Carte Blanche or its agents cannot be held liable for any claims arising out of inaccuracies caused by human error or electronic fault. This transcript was typed from a transcription recording unit and not from an original script, so due to the possibility of mishearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, errors cannot be ruled out.