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The Nelson Mandela Challenge – playing for a good cause

BAFANA Bafana took time off their busy schedule to visit the Greenacres Mall in Port Elizabeth for an autograph signing session. They were greeted by a big crowd of fans who wanted to catch a glimpse of their heroes.

Bafana Bafana is in the city to face Cote d’Ivoire, the number one ranked country on the continent. This will be in the 17th edition of the Nelson Mandela Challenge which will be played today. The match will take place at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Kickoff is at 3.15pm.

“First of all it feels good to be back after a frustrating eight weeks on the sidelines. It is going to be a tough encounter, and more so in the middle where I think the game will won or lost. They have perhaps the most in-form player in Yaya Toure who could be the danger man. But we don’t need to put ourselves under pressure, instead should just do the best we can. Every game counts as we are preparing for Afcon 2013 and the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, while they on the other hand are preparing for the Afcon 2012 and this indicates it’s going to be a tough match,” said midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi.

This is the first time in two years that the South African Senior Men’s National Team visited this province. The last time was shortly before the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup when they came to play against Japan in a warm-up match.

This will also be the second time they play the Nelson Mandela Challenge in Port Elizabeth. South Africa lost to Senegal by three goals to two in the first clash played on the 12th of November in 2005 at the Eastern Province Rugby Union Stadium.

The Nelson Mandela Challenge was established in 1994 in honour of former South African State President, Dr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, and also to herald the country’s new-found democracy. The NMC represents both a distinct response by the sporting community to the cause of the children and Mandela’s commitment to their well being.

The event has for the past 17 years been a light of inspiration and reminder to all and sundry that there is no better future for society than it’s children.

Over the years there have world class teams coming to take part in this annual tournament to show that there is no better vehicle to spread the message than through the world’s loved sport.
Some of the teams that have graced our shores to answer the call of Mandela include Argentina, Brazil, The Netherlands, Sweden, France, Egypt, Nigeria, USA, Cameroon and Norway.

Cote d’Ivoire will be making their first appearance.

“This is quality opposition we are going to face and will help us gauge ourselves as to how much gains we have made. We can only improve when playing countries like these. A match like this one also gives us the opportunity to put things right and forget about the past because clinging on to that will not help anyone. And as for me it great to be back in the national team set-up following my injury,” said goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs.

The contribution that this tournament makes helps towards enabling the NMCF to put a smile on the face of the child and relocates other children back to their families, as Mandela would have loved.
It also goes to projects that see needy parents partake in income-generating activities to put food on the table, to take their young children to school and to ensure that communities are responsive to the well being of children.

“This match is more than just about football and the results thereafter, it’s also about humanity – where the more fortunate ones are able to dig deep into their pockets and help the needy, especially children. A society that does not take care of it’s young ones has no future. As players are we are honoured to have been invited to be part of this great initiative, and for some of us it will remain in our minds forever,” said Bafana Bafana defender Morgan Gould.

To that end the South African Football Association (SAFA) has donated just over seven million rands to the NMCF in the past 17 years. This includes the one million rand they will donate for the clash between Bafana Bafana and Cote d’Ivoire. 

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