A World Cup Templar

By on March 6, 2018

Last week I promised some strangers on the internet that I would write about the magical discovery that is the hot water bottle. I stumbled upon this magical discovery sometime last year when I was in the Virunga Region of Northern Rwanda. The reason I stumbled onto the hot water bottle wasn’t that I was freshly getting into a bloody period of my life. (See what I did there?). It was because of something entirely different. After coercion from a good friend Charlotte who lives and breathes travel, I found myself journeying to Northern Rwanda for what was promised to be a trip of a life time. As a pathetic warm blooded soul who nearly suffers form a horrible disorder known as Cold urticaria, I almost died of the cold and it was then I encountered the magic of the hot water bottle.

Anyway, this blog is not about the hot water bottle and my near death experience. This blog is about something else. I will eventually pen down something about the hot water bottle but at this moment in time my mind won’t let me think about anything other the past few days of my life.

Nothing life threatening has happened so don’t expect anything ridiculous like me publicly professing my love for another human or finally coming out of the closet about my addiction to Pornography. This is a less graphic story about a trip I was lucky to have been a part of a few days ago.

A few months back, while enjoying a quiet Sunday lunch at a friend’s place, I heard about the Coca Cola World Cup Trophy Tour. I heard about the World Cup Trophy doing rounds in over 50 countries in the world before the World Cup finals in Russia later this year. Quite naturally, having heard that the entire idea was fronted by Coca Cola, I was intrigued. You see, these Coca Cola guys have mastered the art of making the world bow before them for decades. They never run out of ways to remind the world that they have this customer appreciation thing under key and lock.

What a beast! (Photo source : www.eaace.com)

Several brands have tried and failed to give their customers some kind of reason to unconsciously remain loyal to their brands. Coca Cola seems to have mastered this art and has wasted no time in splashing their brand all over our faces. Simon, expect an invoice any time now.

Anyway, away from the unpaid for mention of Coca Cola, Uganda happened to be one of the 51 countries chosen to host this Holy Grail – The FIFA World Cup Trophy. Seeing as no African Country has been lucky enough to win this coveted prize, it goes without saying that having the trophy make rounds on the continent reminds us that the damn thing is within reach – or is it? Obviously as a Ugandan I was probably never going to get anywhere close to the Trophy so I figured the Trophy Tour was a good way to be a part of History.

When I was contacted by Coca Cola and told that I would be among those lucky enough to travel to Cape Town to bring the trophy back to Uganda, I figured God’s sick sense of humour was at it again. You see, not-so-long ago I was getting married to Jessica Alba, and then it turned out to be a dream from which I awoke feeling rather cheated by the Universe. And then a little after that I won a lottery and bagged US 1Millon, also in a dream. So this phonecall from Coca Cola appeared to be one of those dreams from which you awake feeling horribly incomplete, cheated and used. And then it turned out to be true – I was actually going to travel to Cape Town for this thing.

I can’t begin to describe the excitement that ensued. I was instructed to not share the news with anyone until a certain date but the whole time I felt like I would explode with the news. Every time someone called me I felt like responding in a Sout Efriken eccent just to give them a hint of what was about to happen. But I did not.

A story is told of 15 Ugandans who flew to South Africa to bring the FIFA World Cup Trophy to Uganda and the moment they touched down in South Africa, a good number of them checked into their Hotel rooms and passed out – tired from traveling. Three of us, (Bettinah our slay queen, Faisal and myself) decided to do what every sane person does when they go to Cape Town – Look for our South African friends and start some trouble.

The team of Ugandans just after touching down at Cape Town International Airport 

And so we went around the City, navigating our way past Cape Town drug lords on Street corners, walking in and out of shops asking for prices of things in Dollars, taking pictures in eye catching places and gazing at cars we had only ever seen in movies. We even had time to swing by Camp’s Bay where Faisal nearly drowned trying to get the perfect sunset picture.

Our flight out of Cape Town was a little after 3am and of course before such a flight it is expected that someone will bring up the idea of a quick drink. I shall not go into details of who suggested this and whether or not it went down but I will simply say that a cold beer while listening to Reggae Music is not a very bad idea once you are with the right company, which is what most South Africans are – awesome company.

Again, away from our shenanigans and onto the gist of this blog post.

Once we got onto the Coca Cola Trophy Tour Jet around 2 am, there was only one thing we could do – take selfies to let the whole world Know we had arrived. Of course at the time most of the world where we were and where we were going was asleep but no one cared. The strangest picture poses were executed with the wildest of expression of excitement. All this was encouraged by the Crew on board which seemed to understand that we could not contain our excitement.

And so the entire flight we were attended to like we were the most important people in the world. The food and drinks kept flowing as did the conversation around this momentous flight. Most, if not all the 15 Ugandans on board admitted to never having flown in a private jet. One or two ideas popped up in my mind of taking the Trophy Hostage and asking for ransom but after seeing the heavy security around the trophy, the ideas instantly disappeared and stayed up there – in the clouds.

Strolling on the tarmac like a boss (Photo by Stuart)

Touching down at Entebbe International Airport was something of a dream come to a very wonderful end – akin to driving off into the sunset with the girl, and a whole load of people watching you. A few calls came in from friends and relatives saying they had seen me on TV and while I worked hard to contain my excitement, I might have faked a South African accent once or twice – just for good measure. Overall, I tried to act natural even though a part of me wanted to call up all my ex girlfriends and remind them about what they were missing.

And then I figured it was simply the euphoria thinking. The conversation with an ex girlfriend would probably be something embarrassing.

I would wait for her to say hi then I would explode into her ears,
“Hey Ex girlfriend”
“Hey you. Everything okay?”
“You tell me. Has your current boyfriend ever been to Cape Town?”
“But Beewol why…”
“Don’t cut me off like you used to. Let me finish. Has he ever flown in a Private Jet? Is he on national TV? Look at what you are missing”
“But Beewol, we have talked about this. I am happy with my boyfriend. When he comes back from his trip to Sweden I will let him know you called to say hello”
“What do you mean?”
“Oh I didn’t tell you? Sorry. He’s in Sweden now for two weeks but when he comes back we fly to the Maldives for weekend before I escort him to Accra for a summit he must attend.”
“You know what Ex Girlfriend. Fuck off!”

So I decided against any gloating with my Ex girlfriends. I had left the country a normal and decent human being and now this Tropy Tour was about to turn me into some overbearing boastful son of a gun.

But why would it not? Boarding the World Cup Trophy Tour Jet is a feeling unlike any other. I know some folks will claim they have boarded yachts and spaceships and they had just as much fun.

Wrong! This experience is unlike any other.

The Trophy Tour Jet itself is pretty cool. It looks quite massive and impressive for a Boeing 737-33A (QC) G-POWC. From a distance, it is an imposing huge red bird painted in Coca Cola colours and branding all over. When you get closer, it begins to sort of take on a personality – one of an aircraft that lands in specific places, has a specific schedule and carries only specific people. It has 6.5-hour/3,000-mile flight range and a permanent crew of three pilots, three flight attendants, a flight mechanic, a doctor and a flight coordinator.
On the Trophy Tour Jet you are fed like a Champion

The stairs leading up to the doorway can be likened to the walk to the winners podium at the World Cup. Well not really, but close enough. Right when you enter the jet, there are lovely faces of the crew that welcome you with the friendliest of smiles. They never tell you that if you mess about on the flight they will ‘take you out’. And you can not tell from their expressions that they can do that. What you can tell however is that you are being treated like a special person.

Right when you enter there is a ‘media area’ that is spacious enough to hold several people at one go. The floor is designed with the design of a football pitch and the attractive colours of the Trophy Tour campaign. We were also told that the team on board often did a bit of Yoga in that area if the passengers were interested. This area is where most people take their photographs and selfies. In here, you will see a list of all the countries where the trophy will go.

After this open space is the sitting area. This one was nothing short of fantastic. There are a total of twenty seats in this area. Each has been specially designed to give the impression that you are the most important traveler on the plane. Plenty of leg room and perfectly designed seats in which you can recline and dose off – assuming the euphoria takes a brief break.

Further in is a room that we could not access. Quite naturally, each person tried to steal a peek of what happens in there but the security was so tight all you would see is a lady or gentleman smiling back at you as if to say “Don’t even think about it.”

This is the area on the plane where the Trophy is shown to Journalists and VIPs. 

Thousands of Ugandans have by now had their opportunity to see the FIFA World Cup Trophy and even take selfies with it but none got as close to the trophy for as long as the 15 Ugandans who were on board the flight from Cape Town to Kampala. As a lover of football and an admirer of countries like Brazil, Germany, Italy and Argentina who have been winners of the trophy, it is safe to say that in my own little world, as a Templar of the FIFA World Cup Trophy, I am very

Ever since the Trophy Tour started with England 1966 superstar Sir Geoff Hurst and Italy 2006 champion Andrea Pirlo launching the trophy tour in London up to the time it eventually ends up in Russia, every corner of the globe will have had a sniff of the Holy Grail of Football. I am just happy that along the way I was one of the Templars.

Well done Coca Cola. Well done indeed.

It doesn’t matter that I didn’t win a trophy because I did it my way and I lived the dream.” ―Alan Shearer

Bernard
a.k.a Beewol
The Talkative Rocker
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Baldie. Ailurophile. Social Media Junkie. Blogger. Pluviophile. Fixer. Sober Drunkard.
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