The ULTIMATE FIFA World Cup Fan Park!

Sport is the ultimate reality TV show. There’s a permanent David vs. Goliath battle at play and you never truly know what’s going to happen from one second to the next. I mean you get crazy moments in life, then that crazy uncle or aunt and finally, you get sport!

If you’ve ever been to any live sports match, you’ll know what kind of atmosphere I’m referring to. It’s the one where the fanatics are in their element and there’s palpable tension throughout the stadium. Even if you’re not an avid supporter, it’s hard not to get sucked into the atmosphere of the epic encounter.

In just a few weeks, the world’s biggest sporting event returns in the form of the FIFA World Cup! It’s crazy to think that four years have passed since our country became the first African nation to host the football extravaganza but time waits for nothing, not even nostalgia.

But still, I’ll never forget waking up on Friday, 11 June 2010 to the sound of vuvuzelas being trumpeted EVERYWHERE. South Africa felt truly united as a nation; never more did a king of the land have reason to speak to the beggar on the street. The country had a common happiness!

For these reasons and more is why I can’t wait for the World Cup to start. I wanna jump up and down as it’s all happening, pump my fist when the team I’m supporting is winning, shout and swear when we lose and analyze tiny details of a game that’s been finished for hours. Holy donkey duck, the more I think about it, the more excited I get; I’m on the verge of punching myself in the chin!

It’s because of that last World Cup that I started hosting social gatherings around big sporting events. At first, I needed a month’s holiday from all the craziness that came with going to live matches, watching most other games at a fan park and even just gathering at a braai on a random Tuesday night at mate’s house ‘cos God forbid we missed Tunisia vs. Afghanistan.

But once recovered, all I could think about was attempting to recreate that amazing spirit and passion at social events centered around big sports occasions. So that’s what I did. I hosted some events.

But soon, a natural evolution took place. The more events I hosted, the more it became paramount to own my own venue that I could transform as I pleased to suit my needs and creativity. I had these grand ideas but was always limited by the venues I was using purely because they didn’t belong to me.

So I set out to find my own venue. But there was a catch. I wanted the venue to be located in the South which is where I live. My thinking was that there were plenty people just like me who didn’t want to drive far or go to some dingy pub where you could pick up venereal diseases just by eating the peanuts. The world thought I was mad and sometimes I had to agree but I couldn’t get the idea out my head.

Patience is not a quality I possess in large doses. I searched in the craziest places for this venue. Once I almost even rented a large amount of office space because as the eternal idealist, “it looked like it could almost work”.

In the end, it took just under 3 years before I found the right space and another 9 months before the deal finally got concluded. I partnered with 3 well-rounded individuals who believed in the vision and we were finally on our way. That venue is now called Malakite and we’ve been operating for just under a year! I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you’ve followed Malakite’s progress over the last year, you’ll know we’ve hosted a lot of different events at our venue; this is what I love most about the place but here’s the clincher. The World Cup is a but few weeks away and I’m obsessed with running events around it.

Now that you understand the journey, I’d like to tell you what I have in store. This is about more than the World Cup. It’s about the picture I see when I close my eyes and think back four years ago. I envision a venue that’s an extended version of my living room and it’s open to anyone who’s gonna add to the atmosphere and have a good time when the big tournament arrives.

So here’s the deal… It goes without saying that we are going to be open for every World Cup match. We will also have around 16 full size TV screens splashed around the venue so that everyone can watch at every turn. We already spent nearly R100k on sound throughout the venue so we’re talking quality audio/visual throughout the venue.

But there is a twist. This isn’t some glorified sports bar concept. Watching the World Cup matches is cool but I want it to be more than that. We have partnered with a host of food vendors from places like Market on Main and Neighbourgoods to add to that carnival atmosphere!

Finally, we will have our usual games available for everyone to play. Table tennis, foosball, pool, PS3, beer pong and flippy cup. We want people to feel like this is home. We will be sourcing all sorts of craft beers, tequilas and wines to add to the experience. The point is we’re going out of our way; we want to share a full-sensory experience with you!

Although we will be open for every match, we recognize that weekends are where it’s happening because of the time difference. Although some week games are not to be missed. Here’s a little highlights package of what we’re planning:

Thursday, 12 June: Brazil vs. Croatia @ 22h00 – The opening match and only game of the night. We’re making a full evening of it. There will food, drinks, games to play and TV’s everywhere. Most importantly, it’s the start of something beautiful.

Friday, 13 June: Spain vs. Netherlands @ 21h00. There are generally three games a night but this is the pick of the night and the re-match of last World Cup’s final. We will have a host of food vendors but the highlight is the paella guys (Tutto) who are joining us for the evening. Also lots of craft tequilas because Mexico play the game before.

Saturday, 14 June: England vs. Italy @ 00h00. Definitely the match of the day but South Africa are playing a rugby match against Wales earlier that afternoon at 17h00 so again, we’re making a full day of it. All sorts of different food vendors on offer throughout the day.

Monday, 16 June: Germany vs. Portugal @ 18h00. PUBLIC HOLIDAY and we are going all out. We have planned a Portuguese Festival at Malakite. You name it, it will be available on the day. Next to the final, this will probably be one of the biggest days we host!

Thursday, 19 June: Uruguay vs. England @ 21h00. Who even calls their country Uruguay? Needless to say, there’s a million poms thinking they could just maybe win this thing. I don’t think they have a chance in hell but I’m all for the frenzy. PS. Ladies, David Beckham has retired now.

Friday, 20 June: Italy and France are in action at different times but Friday nights are full-blown market evenings meaning there’s plenty of quality food to enjoy and it’s World Cup Friday so the ales will be flowing.

Saturday, 21 June: Argentina and Germany are in action at different times throughout the evening but again South Africa play Wales at 15h00 during the day so we’re going all out. It’s a great reason to get the boys and girls together and jol.

Sunday, 22 June: Portugal vs. USA @ 00h00. I know it’s a touch late but the South really belongs to Portugal so again, it’s back to full-blown Portuguese festival during the day.

Thursday, 26 June: Portugal vs. Ghana @18h00. Any Portugual game is a game that will be celebrated at Malakite!

Saturday, 28 June: Knockout stages begin. Games are at 20h00 and 00h00. There is the potential for Brazil to play either Spain or Netherlands… I say no more!

Sunday, 29 June: More knockout stages. From here, it’s really hard to predict who plays who but it is the business end of the tournament and it’s where the best moments happen. As always, market vendors and full fan park status will be on the go.

Monday, 30 June: 3rd lot of knockout stages!

Tuesday, 1 July: Last lot of knockout stages before the quarter-finals start!

Friday, 4 July: First round of quarter-finals and being a weekend, we will be celebrating like it’s the final. Again, games are at 20h00 and 00h00.

Saturday, 5 July: More quarter-final action!

Tuesday, 8 July: First semi-final! Game is at 00h00.

Wednesday, 9 July: Second semi-final! Game is at 00h00.

Saturday, 12 July: 3rd vs. 4th place play-off! Full market vibe with the usual fun and games that come with it! Game is at 00h00.

Sunday, 13 July: The grand finale! This is the day it all comes together. Make no mistake, we will be going all out for the final and we will be going out with a bang! Game is at 23h00.

If haven’t already, please like our Facebook page to keep in touch with the finer details during the World Cup.

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About the author: Mark Sham

Mark Sham

NOT the boy next door. Entrepreneur at heart with a marketing background and a love for social media. Owner of Vivid Marketing!

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