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Dominican Official Helps Others Attend World Cup


Norman De Castro (L) and Norman De Castro, Jr

Norman De Castro (L) and Norman De Castro, Jr

Not all football fans who have traveled to see World Cup games in South Africa are from countries whose teams are participating.

Norman De Castro is a prime example. He has been the the Honorary Consul of South Africa in the Dominican Republic for the past six months. But this is his first time he has set foot in South Africa.

"After all this time, you know, working and talking and promoting South Africa in the Dominican Republic, where else would you want to be in June but at the World Cup," he said.

De Castro says his job promoting relationships between the Dominican Republic and South Africa keeps him quite busy.

"There is a lot to do, because there are like five South Africans in the Dominican Republic and six Dominicans in South Africa, so we have a lot to do," he said. "But we have full-fledged diplomatic relationships. We have a Dominican ambassador in Pretoria, and South Africa has an ambassador in Havana, Cuba, to which I report."

Last December, De Castro began thinking about visiting during the period of the World Cup. He finalized his plans in February, but he did not just make his own arrangements.

"As Honorary Consul I assisted about 35 Dominicans to get here," De Castro said. "And those are only Dominicans that require visas, because I handled a lot of other requests for people that did not require visas that ended up requiring visas, such as Argentineans. We provided a lot of information for them. We assisted Mexicans, Colombians. Some people went from Santo Domingo to Cuba to get the visas."

De Castro said the experience has opened his eyes.

"It is interesting. Football is a global thing," he said. "I mean you would not believe from a country like ours, which is not the richest country in the world, that people will come all the way down to another part of the world to see football."

De Castro did not travel to South Africa alone. He brought his son Norman De Castro Jr., whose teachers in Santo Domingo allowed him to miss a week of school because he was making good grades.

The younger De Castro did some research on the Internet beforehand, and when he saw one of the four World Cup games they had tickets for was in Nelspruit, he convinced his father to take him to nearby Kruger Park to go on a safari and see the wild animals.

The young De Castro knows how fortunate he is.

"I thank him a lot because he almost crossed the world with me just to come here," he said.

Both Norman De Castro and Norman De Castro Jr. said this will be a trip they will long hold dear in their memories.

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