Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
Caltrans employees gather in the cafeteria during lunch to get their fill of World Cup action.

World Cup Mania Hits Caltrans
by  Patrick Chandler
Issue Date: 07/2010

Soccer, the world’s most popular sport has District 7 abuzz with excitement

[Click on photos to read captions.]

Although the Los Angeles Lakers won their second championship in two years just a few blocks from the District Headquarters, the World Cup may have overshadowed the best basketball team in the world.

Every four years the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) holds the World Cup in major cities across the globe. This year’s Cup hosted by South Africa, began on June 11 and will end on July 11.

Much like the loud buzzing sound heard during the World Cup games in South African stadiums, soccer (or football) fans in District 7 have become excited like a hive of bees.

During the lunch hour one may find several fans inside of Begin’s watching one or two games on separate screens. Fans in the cafeteria wait in uneasy anticipation for a great move to be made, a through pass, a cross, a free kick, a header, a penalty shot, a red card, and quite possibly, a goal to be scored by their favorite or their birth nation’s team.

“The World Cup has always been a part of what we do at Caltrans because we have people from all over the world here, and we also have some really good soccer players too,” said Presley Burroughs, a right of way agent, a 24-year Caltrans veteran and avid soccer fan.

“Spirits are definitely up. This is something that we definitely need right now in the Department,” said Burroughs.

Burroughs said that the positivity and morale boost that he has seen recently reminded him of a time when District 7 has several organized sports teams, including a bowling team.

“This [World Cup] has created an outlet for people, a diversion,” said Godson Okereke, the District’s pavement rehabilitation program advisor. Okereke is originally from Nigeria, where soccer is the most popular sport. Despite the lackluster performance of several African teams (Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Cameroon, Algeria, and South Africa) in the Cup, “There is a festive mood in the office, especially for those with a vested interest,” said Okereke.

“I’ve seen people on all floors of the district office talking about their favorite teams, giving predictions, arguing over who is better. I have even seen some people wearing their favorite team's jerseys to work,” said Yessica Jovel, a public affairs officer. Although Yessica has never been an avid soccer player, this year’s effort by the US has really sparked her interest.

Abdi Saghafi, a project manager, said “I see the World Cup uplifting the mood in the office. It gives people something else to talk about besides furloughs.” As the tournament continues into July, “the World Cup will get more exciting,” he said.

With all of the excitement about the World Cup inside of the district office, Burroughs easily summed it up, “There is a buzz here during World Cup time, and we are feeling it now. You do not find this kind of camaraderie in any other major engineering organization.”

With employees from all over the world at Caltrans, the devotion for soccer is universal.