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Danes bring welcome rain, generous gifts for Knysna

Team tours township as heavens open

Jun 9, 2010 11:38 PM | By BOBBY JORDAN

Photograph by: Ian Walton
Credit: Getty Images
quote 'Wanted to experience local culture' quote Jacob Zuma

A two-year drought in the southern Cape town came to a spectacular end with a massive downpour just as the Danish soccer squad became the first World Cup stars to visit their fans in their host town of Knysna.

Players, council officials and school children huddled together in the Percy Mdala High School hall on a hillside while outside rain turned a new Danish-funded soccer pitch into a bog.

Instead of touring the pitch, the players spoke to pupils and dribbled balls inside the hall.

But the visit was still a massive success with the community, which will benefit from a generous Danish investment project.

Locals said they're hoping for a Denmark vs South Africa World Cup final.

"The rain is bad luck," said Siphesihle Mdluli, 14, who waited at the side of the field to see the players. "It has not been raining for so long. Now the team comes - and it rains.

"We are very disappointed but we understand. We will watch them on the TV."

Knysna council officials praised the Danish team's community spirit.

Danish ambassador Dan Frederiksen said his government's investment in Bongani was aimed at youth development.

The Danes will also sponsor a sports-development programme.

"We want to share with South Africa the soccer and sports culture we have in Denmark," he said.

Knysna mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies said: "You have not simply given our people a soccer field. You have given them a common ground where sport will become the medium through which disputes are settled.

"And you have given the children a place in which to realise their dreams."

Team spokesman Lars Berendt said the players had asked to meet the locals.

"They know that they are living in seclusion and they wanted to experience the local culture," Berendt said.