Walk to the World Cup
As World Cup year kicks into gear, Pete Hall speaks to three football fans ready to go the extra mile - thousands of them, in fact - to make this summer in Brazil one to remember...
By Pete Hall - Follow on Twitter
Last Updated: 18/01/14 7:25am
We all dream of going to the World Cup. Fond memories of Bobby Moore lifting the Jules Rimet trophy back in 1966, Paul Gascoigne crying at Italia '90 and a fresh-faced Michael Owen tearing through the Argentina backline at France '98 evoke a certain sense of patriotism within us all, and get our mouths watering in anticipation for this summer's footballing showpiece in Brazil.
But are you an avid enough follower of your country that you would be willing to walk for almost 2000km to see the Three Lions swelter in the South American sun? And furthermore, would you be emboldened enough to persuade 32 similarly fervent football fans to join you on your epic adventure?
Well that's exactly what three passionate England fans are undertaking. Adam Burns, Dave Bewick and Pete Johnston will be walking 1966km across South America to the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The trio set off from Mendoza in Argentina on March 3rd and walk for 100 days through three countries and 29 towns and villages, before arriving in Porto Alegre on June 8th, four days before the start of the World Cup - and it's all for a good cause.
They have launched a campaign in search of those zealous enough to come along, and we spoke to the ambitious trio, explaining the method behind the madness, their hopes for the trip and where the inspiration for such a mammoth journey came from.
Guys, was this one of those ideas that started in the pub, and escalated into something greater than any of you could have imagined?
Dave: Well, sure enough, me and Adam were in our local, The Little Guy in Sydney and after one too many pale ales, and an unbelievable amount of egging on from the barman, we decided that we could potentially try and walk to the World Cup. That night we bought the URL to www.walktotheworldcup.com but nothing happened for about two months. All three of us then met up again as Pete was living in Melbourne and we decided after a bit of research that it was actually possible, to our great surprise.
How is the fan search coming along? Have you had much interest from abroad?
Adam: We actually started the fan search because we were inundated with football fans interested in joining us. Fans from Spain, Germany, USA and Australia have all been in touch, so we thought why not turn it into something fun.
We're asking fans to film themselves celebrating as if they have just scored the winning goal at the World Cup final and then upload the video to our 'JOIN US!' tab on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/walktotheworldcup
Pete: We will then pick our favourite 32 and invite people to join our walk at different stages. We hope to reach Porto Alegre as an army of football fans from all over the world. It will be like Forrest Gump meets Bend it like Beckham.
Tell us about the charity you are planning to raise money for?
Dave: The J de V Arts Care Trust is a small charity run by a wonderful lady called Santa Tattersaul. The trust was set up to continue the charitable work of Josephina de Vasconcellos and works towards improving the lives of underprivileged people through creative arts.
Pete: Santa has been a family friend of Dave's for several years; she was raised in Brazil and still has strong connections to the people there. The money we raise will help the charity drill a water bore in the North East of Brazil which is suffering the worst drought in 50 years. There is a summary of the devastating effect of this drought at this link.
People can also donate at justgiving.com/WalkToTheWorldCup-JdeV
Why this particular route and time-frame?
Dave: We had the idea to walk 1966km because it is a number of great significance to English football and we also felt it was achievable. The distance roughly matched the route from Mendoza to Porto Alegre. We'd talked about Mendoza (famous for wine and women) being a place we all wanted to visit and with Porto Alegre being the closest host city it tied in perfectly with our plan.
Adam: The whole journey will take roughly 100 days, however we have planned rest days as we want to experience the places we travel too. We plan to walk 30km a day which should take between 6-7 hours.
What research have you done about what to expect along the way?
Adam: Dave spent several months travelling South America many moons ago and we have read a great deal about the countries we will encounter. Dave and Pete are currently in Buenos Aires as they will be driving the first leg of the route backwards to do more detailed planning. We are really excited to explore these three beautiful countries but safety is our number one priority so we have been as thorough as we can with our planning.
Hotels, tents, hostels or sleeping under the stars?
Pete: All of the above! We have been so overwhelmed by the support of the local people who have offered to put us up throughout our journey. Most recently we have been given three beds in the biggest hostel in South America, hostel suites in Buenos Aires and we hope for more of the same fantastic generosity once we start walking.
Dave: We will have tents with us for the long stretches between villages and if the climate allows it are happy to brave a couple of nights under the stars!
¿Habla Espanol? Are you worried that walking through local villages, off the beaten track, you will struggle with the language barrier?
Pete: Dave speaks Spanish very well and I can get by as we both lived in Barcelona for two years. It's Adam who is the big worry! We hope he's been practicing without telling us because the last time we saw him all he knew was 'Can I have the bill please?' but on second thoughts perhaps that's not such a bad thing.
When organising the trek, did you find local authorities were supportive or resentful of you using their quiet towns as a watering hole?
Dave: We haven't as yet had much correspondence with local authorities however we have been in touch with some of the football teams along the way who seem very excited to meet three passionate England football fans. We have informed the British consulate who have given us some helpful advice too.
Are you guys planning to stay out in Brazil for the duration of the World Cup to celebrate your achievements?
Pete: Yes we are definitely spending the entirety of the World Cup in Brazil, after all this is the reason we originally decided to undertake this adventure! We will be based in Rio from where we are hoping soak up the atmosphere and experience the highs and lows that will surely come from the greatest show on earth. The prospect of seeing how this football crazy nation hosts the biggest sporting event in the world will definitely be something incredible.
Adam: We are hoping to try and source England tickets as we were unlucky in the ballot, should we miss out on tickets we will still travel with the England fans to the venues, well maybe not Manaus as that is a bit of a trek...
Lastly, what does your head tell you about England's chances at the World Cup?
Pete: Thinking realistically we have to be grateful to get out of the group stages. With it being one of the toughest groups England have ever seen, Italy and Uruguay will both be incredibly difficult games and Costa Rica are not to be underestimated. However we don't want to be the typical England supporters with a grim outlook - We're hoping we can battle against the odds and face Brazil in the semis!
Adam: It would be great to see Hodgson take some of the younger players, after all they are the future, so I'm hoping the likes of Lallana, Sterling and Barkley get a seat on the plane. Like most England fans we will go in to the tournament with huge excitement, perhaps not as much expectation, but we all harbour that dream that England 'can do it' only to be left heartbroken after penalties. But what a ride! Arguably better than the Pepsi Max in Blackpool.
Dave: I just want to see England play attacking fearless football. We have no expectation to even progress so the players in theory should feel less weight on their shoulders than any other England team. I'm gutted Theo is out because he looked like he was just getting in to the best form of his life for Arsenal. I would play Sterling in his place, every time he gets the ball he speeds the game up and that's what some of our stalwarts need.