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Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

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World Cup 2010 on the BBC: The BBC Bus in South Africa

As the first ever World Cup to be held in Africa, this year's tournament has a special significance and will be about more than just what happens on the pitch. The BBC aims to capture the full effect of South Africa 2010 on its people across the length and breadth of the country by reporting from as many places as possible. Making this possible is a specially equipped bus travelling from Cape Town at the start of the tournament to Johannesburg for the Final, visiting a diverse selection of places along its 6,000km journey – from townships and social projects to sites of cultural and historic significance.

"We want to bring a real flavour of South Africa as a country and the impact of the World Cup on it back to people in the UK," says Matthew Roberts, the BBC Assistant Producer behind the bus and its epic journey. "It's a great way to reflect how South Africans outside of the main cities are watching the World Cup as we can get to so many different places this way. We can also raise awareness of the challenges faced by many South Africans and how football plays a key part in their lives."

The double-decker bus was successfully used by BBC News for the last General Election so was already partially equipped as a mobile studio, making for a cost-effective way to enable TV, radio and online to broadcast and report from different locations each day. The bus offers an extra dimension to the BBC's coverage by providing material for all the live matches and evening highlights shows from a host of different locations, covering a wide variety of stories along the way.

While the Match Of The Day team is based in Cape Town, the bus aims to travel via every World Cup venue city during its journey, visiting each host city on a match day to immerse itself in the live World Cup experience, with the vehicle providing an OB studio facility to capture all the colour and excitement of the event.

As Matt explains, they want to visit places as diverse as small townships; historic sites including Soweto and Boer War battlegrounds; tourist destinations such as Addo Elephant Park and Agulhas National Park; a gold-mining town; some hot springs; a diamond mine; Sun City; and some of the fan parks being set up around the country.

"No one will cover more miles to show the real South Africa outside the big cities," he says."We want to go to as wide a variety of places as possible to reach an extensive cross-section of the population and see how the whole of South Africa is embracing the tournament."

Among those on board the bus with Matt will be TV reporters Dan Walker and Rob Walker, Radio 5 Live's Colin Paterson and BBC Online journalist Paul Fletcher. "We already have plenty of ideas – for instance there's an organisation in Cape Town called Streetwires which takes unemployed people and teaches them how to make wire and bead craft art in order to make a living, and they are making some great stuff around the theme of the World Cup. And a group of football fans are planning to help build orphanages and run soccer schools for deprived local children while they are in Durban for the tournament.

"I'd also like us to visit some of the orphanages which house kids whose parents have died from HIV. The kids love football and we want to reflect that, and also how sport can be used to improve conditions – for instance one organisation there teaches life skills through soccer.

"We're also looking for any interesting and quirky stories that happen while we're there – we'll be showing our route and mileage on the BBC Sport website and people will be able to see where we're going and email in any contributions. And Paul and others will be blogging about the trip and Tweeting regularly so people can contact us that way too."

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