Detour onto a different road to 2010
Greetings from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where it's a working vacation for both the Vancouver Whitecaps and yours truly.
We left Vancouver on Wednesday night, stopped Thursday afternoon in London and arrived Friday in the biggest city in the east African country known as home of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak. Some of us on the starboard side of the British Airways flight from London were treated to views of the famous crater at dawn.
This is the most exotic and ambitious trip for a Vancouver sports franchise since the Vancouver Canucks went to Tokyo to open the 1997 season against the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim or 2000 when the Canucks trained in Sweden. The original 1974-1984 Whitecaps preceded their North American Soccer League seasons in 1981 and 1982 with trips to Europe. Back then, the club was full of Brits and some Irish. Now the club mirrors Canada's multicultural mosaic.
Three players with African connections joined Whitecaps' head coach Teitur Thordarson and Tanzania Football Federation general secretary Frederick Mwakalebela at a Friday news conference in the Sea Cliff Hotel, by the
shores of the Indian Ocean (CLICK HERE to see Mackin's 24 Hour Podcast).
Montreal-raised striker Charles Gbeke, who scored both goals in last October's championship victory, was born in Ivory Coast.
"We're here to just have a great time, build a chemistry as a team, try to play good football," Gbeke told more than 40 local journalists. "We're excited, we saw the way you guys welcomed us."