SA keeps its eye on SWC ball
Pretoria - Sport and Recreation Minister Makhenkesi Stofile on Thursday appealed for South Africans to remain united in their resolve to deliver a world class 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup event.
Speaking in the National Assembly during debate on his budget vote, Stofile said the joyous celebrations at the May 15, 2004 announcement that South Africa would host the event was soon dimmed by questions of readiness, transport capabilities, suitable accommodation, and crime and security.
"All very legitimate concerns but raised with such venom and distortions that were clearly born of Afro-pessimism. We confounded all pessimists and 'Plan B' harbingers," he said.
The resilience and patriotism of South Africans had been exceptional. The people never took their collective eye from the ball.
"Our hopes and those of the continent continued, as it still does, to be our loadstone, our source of courage and inspiration.
"We have come to within 49 days of the tournament. The biggest in the world. Congratulations to all of us.
"For once, we should not be shy to give ourselves a big pat on the back, all of us.
"We must remain united in our resolve to deliver a world class event, a unique and memorable World Cup that will position us as significant global players in all fields of human endeavour," Stofile said.
The cup presented South Africa with an ideal forum to extend an unforgettable South African welcome to the world.
It offered a golden opportunity to collaborate with all stakeholders in a dynamic partnership based on integrity and excellence.
It was a strong catalyst towards building national and continental pride and unity. It was already boosting tourism and the economy, he said.
The World Cup should make South Africa a favourable destination to visit and to conduct business. It should also reduce Afro-pessimism.
The World Cup had opened many people's eyes to other countries and their cultures.
"As our youth is inculcated with a sense of national pride and are exposed to other cultures, their respect for unity in diversity gets stronger.
"This is good for good citizenship that is non-discriminatory and non-xenophobic. This is good for internationalism and a peaceful world."
Stofile urged support, not only for Bafana Bafana.
"Let us all support all African teams. Yes, let us also support all teams. Football and sport are more than a game. Sport is a great catalyst for national unity and cohesion," he said.