It took three best friends from Johannesburg roughly five years to save more than R60,000 to attend the FIFA World Cup in Russia and fulfil their lifelong dream.
Fhatuwani Mpfuni, Thami Khuzwayo, and Brian Moshoeshoe landed in Saint Petersburg on Thursday where they will be watching three World Cup matches before heading to another two in Moscow.
“It’s a dream come true; I can not believe my eyes,” Mpfuni told Business Insider South Africa from Saint Petersburg.
“We were really sceptical about Russia, but we have gotten a good reception from the locals and we are loving the whole World Cup vibe.”
Mpfuni had dreamt of attending a World Cup soccer match since he watched his first FIFA World Cup in 1998.
Growing up in Mamvuka in rural Limpopo, Mpfuni’s family bought their first television just in time for the tournament.
“I had just turned eight and I remember that the only programme we watched during that entire cold month of June was the FIFA world cup [in] France,” Mpfuni wrote on Twitter.
He says his village didn’t have electricity, which meant that the TV had to be connected to a generator.
“Every match night, there would be between 50 to 80 people watching the matches with us... It is due to the electrifying atmosphere in that small room that I fell in love with football and most importantly started dreaming of watching the World Cup live one day.”
Mpfuni was unable to attend the 2010 World Cup in South Africa due to financial difficulties.
“I got to watch a few matches on a big screen at Thokoza Park [in Soweto], but… I reached the conclusion that 'some dreams just never come true'."
In 2013 during a road trip to watch an Africa Cup of Nations match in Durban, he and two friends, Khuzwayo and Moshoeshoe, decided to go to the Brazil World Cup.
However, in May 2014 – with the World Cup a month away – they realised the money they had would not be enough to even cover a return flight.
“For the fifth time in my life, I watch the World Cup on the Telly," Mpfuni says.
Five months later the trio, who all work as football administrators, started saving and planning for the World Cup in Russia in 2018.
Return tickets to Russia costs on average around R8,500, which excludes food and accommodation, which run up to R1,000 a day.
“All I can say it's that it was not as expensive as we first feared. We were able to book and pay for flights and accommodation a year earlier and that obviously came at a good rate.”
Mpfuni advises people with dreams which seem unreachable to not give up.
“But most importantly, please be aware that simply having a dream is not enough to help you realised it,” he says.
“You need to plan and work hard towards the dream, whatever it is.”
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