“NIIT and SOCCER – the two passions of Ghanaians!”
The dawn of the first ever FIFA WORLD CUP on the African continent was greeted with excitement and lots of expectations and we at NIIT Ghana were prepared to offer a lifetime experience to our students. “Ke Nako” – It’s Time!!
It was a time to fulfil the promise made earlier this year to sponsor students to FIFA World Cup. Individuals who enrolled at NIIT prior to the world cup participated in a lucky-dip draw. Winners of the draw had an all expense paid trip to South Africa to cheer on the Black Stars of Ghana to victory. This was in fulfillment of NIIT Ghana’s "Register and Fly" promotion in March 2010.
The NIIT sponsored team led by its Managing Director, Mr. Kapil Gupta left Ghana on Tuesday June 22, 2010 for South Africa with a contingent of Six (6) to show support for the Black Stars. The team included staff members, students and business associates. The trip was fully sponsored by NIIT Ghana to give its stakeholders (both internal and external) a taste of the greatest event ever hosted on the African continent.
On arrival at the O.R Tambo international airport, South Africa, the visitors were greeted by the chilly winter atmosphere. They also had a taste of South African Hospitality in the form of a mini-bus ride. After freshening up at a guest house, the team visited the office of Pacific Paper Technologies - business associates of NIIT Ghana and host of the sponsored team. At the office of Pacific Paper, the visitors watched the Slovenia vs England match on a large TV screen. This was in preparation for the evening’s showpiece between the gallant Black Stars and their German counterparts at the Calabash stadium, Soccer City. There were enough snacks and drinks to share whilst enjoying the game on TV.
At about 6pm local time, the joint team got into a hired bus along with their South African host and headed for the Calabash stadium. Those in the bus included two Germans who were “bullied” into cheering for Ghana or risk being dropped out of the bus. Traffic was slowly paced on approaching the stadium as major roads were blocked amid lots of vehicles and noisy football fans. The temperature that evening was so cold most fans had to put on hood, gloves, scarf and jacket - anything to keep them warm. The calabash stadium is a beautiful edifice and the team had a smooth passage to witness the game live.
The NIIT sponsored team got to the stadium early enough to see the players warming up in their yellow jackets with white shorts. According to the students, the view from the terrace was just spectacular. For a moment, they left the players alone and spent some time looking around - looking out for the various cameras, their locations, the technologies involved etc. All this while, the Vuvuzelas were off the hook, being blown at high pitches with varying sounds. However, all Vuvuzelas went quiet when it was time for the national anthem and the fans disciplined themselves that much.
When the kick-off whistle was blown it was fun but a tensed moment. The Ghanaian fans were at the mercy of the weather when the German's scored. But sighting Ghana’s qualification, to the round of 16, on the giant stadium screens, it appeared most fans forgot about the cold atmosphere. Excitement engulfed the football enthusiasts and they resulted to singing and dancing which continued deep into the night.
The following day, the group was privileged to receive tickets for the Italy vs Slovakia game at Ellis Park stadium, downtown Johannesburg. This was not part of the initial arrangement but thanks to their host (Pacific Paper Technologies) it became possible.
On the third day, the sponsored team spent some time visiting one of the biggest shopping malls in South Africa at Sandton City. The team also visited the Nelson Mandela square where they had fun taking pictures by the Madiba (Nelson Mandela) statue.
Having survived the cold weather bravely it was time to say goodbye. The team returned safely, arriving at the Kotoka International Airport on the fourth day. Aboard the airplane, the cabin crew provided the passengers with timely updates on the USA vs Ghana match. Most passengers sang songs of praise when Ghana’s win and qualification to the quarter finals was announced.
Indeed it was a lifetime experience for the sponsored team and they applauded NIIT Ghana for such an awe-inspiring offer. Surely, “Good things start with NIIT”.
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