Cape Town - There were smiles all round as VfB Stuttgart paid a visit to Cape Town’s Philippi Township on Monday.
Die Schwaben put on an unforgettable show for local children, who were invited to join their heroes for a day of fun, football and good old-fashioned camaraderie.
"It’s an honour for us to have VfB Stuttgart visit our township,” beamed local kids’ coach and organiser Siyabonga Ndlebe. “When you look in the children’s eyes, you can really see a special glint there. It is a wonderfully happy day for them and they also benefit from the training of course. It was just so much fun!”
The activities on offer ranged from ball juggling to matches and penalty shoot-outs, with head coach Thomas Schneider only too happy to dictate proceedings. “It was impressive to see how quickly some of them came to terms with what they had to do - there were some real talents out there today,” he said. “The kids had a lot of fun, and our guys never had any trouble striking a balance between training and enjoying the experience.”
'A fantastic afternoon'
Tunisian defender Karim Haggui, for one, was vociferous in his support of the township youngsters, cheering on his dexterous troupe to the tune of “Hey, Bafana Bafana”, while team-mates Cacau and Gotoku Sakai celebrated wildly as another showed off some fantastic skills in the keepie-uppies department.
“The session was really a lot of fun for the lads,” said sporting director Fredi Bobic. “You could see that some of them are really just kids themselves. It was a fantastic afternoon.”
Home to around 100,000 residents, the township itself is a far cry from the standard of living the VfB camp have become accustomed to back in Stuttgart, home to iconic car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz.
“It’s striking to see just how massive the differences can be within one city,” explained Bosnia-Herzegovina international striker Vedad Ibisevic. “It was a very interesting experience for me, but for the kids, that’s just daily life,” he concluded, touched by yet another eye-opening day out in the Rainbow Nation.
Adaptation: Christopher Mayer-Lodge
Watch more of Stuttgart's tour to South Africa here, courtesy of the official Bundesliga YouTube channel: