JULY 11 (today) marks exactly one year since the end of the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament. It was on that day that Spain rewrote the history books when they lifted the trophy for the very first time after defeating The Netherlands one nil in the final played in a packed FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.
As the day falls on a week day, the South African Football Association (SAFA) celebrated the One Year Anniversary yesterday at the Ekangala Stadium near Bronkhorstspruit. The event was initially scheduled for early in June (as a reminder to the start of the World Cup) but had to be postponed due to the passing on of ANC stalwart, Mrs. Albertina Sisulu during the same period.
The event was attended by most of the SAFA leadership – President Kirsten Nematandani, vice presidents Dr Danny Jordaan, Mandla Mazibuko and Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana, including several National Executive Committee members. Also gracing the celebration was Minister for Human Settlement, Tokyo Sexwale. He was also a board member of the 2010 Local Organising Committee and is currently a member of the FIFA Development Committee as well as the FIFA Fair Play Committee.
The occasion started with the cutting of a ribbon as a symbolic gesture to open a football turf at the venue as part of the 2010 FIFA World Cup legacy. This was the fourteenth pitch in the country, and the objective is to spread them throughout the 52 SAFA regions. The pitches have been erected with the help of the Lotteries Board who have put in 170, 1 million for the first 27.
The other activities of the day included the grassroots development program which saw 300 children between the ages of six and twelve being introduced to the game. Thirty coaches took part in ensuring the children are guided through the process well.
“Today is about saying tomorrow is a celebration. Before the World Cup we were doubted by everyone but we managed to pull of one of the most successful and talked about tournaments in FIFA’s history. We made a promise before the World Cup that we wanted the event to leave a legacy and the beautiful pitch you see today is a result of all that. We cannot have the Radebe’s, the Pienaar’s, the Khune’s and the Jali’s without development, and the new pitch you see here and around the country speaks to that. We need to catch them young, hence the Grassroots Development Program is very crucial. But the legacies don’t end there, we also have good infrastructure, a healthy economy and excellent tourism into our country,” said Sexwale.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup is a tournament that will forever be etched in the country’s history, and everyone can look back with pride at the country’s phenomenal achievement.
“The World Cup was an unqualified success and as a nation we need to be proud of that. We can now walk tall because the world has taken note of our capabilities. The playing fields have now been leveled and the World Cup has left us with everlasting memories. As we look forward to 11 July 2011 we need to remember the 30 days this time last year that changed our country for the better. We should not forget that period, but instead make it a permanent feature in our lives as a great achievement we had as a country, as a continent,” said Dr Jordaan.
Africa’s first World Cup event was FIFA’s best ever, commercially successful and arguably its most socially important ever.
“This is a very important time for all of us, more so the Association’s as we are celebrating our 20th Year Anniversary. After successfully hosting the World Cup we are now more than ready to face the challenges facing us because it can’t get any bigger than that. We will continue in our quest to enhance development in the country, and the many children that you see here today are proof of that. We would like to say thanks to the Lotteries Board for partnering with us in advancing development for a brighter future for our national teams. Development is not only our core business, but it is also in our hearts,” said Nematandani.