KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, says the provincial government will use the World Football Summit to open their eyes and minds to think beyond just the unrivalled passion of football, but as a catalyst for tourism and socio-economic development.
Dube-Ncube was speaking during the opening ceremony of the World Football Summit Africa 2022, currently underway at Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban.
“We are excited at the global marketing exposure that this summit presents for us and this will surely ignite and further fuel the growing tourist interest in our province. We have in our midst representation from best football leagues who will work with our province in a number of areas to help us grow this new economic terrain,” Dube-Ncube said.
The two-day summit, which is being held for the first time in African soil, is a meeting of football industry to devise and share ideas on how to take the game forward. It is aimed at empowering the local football industry with expertise in advancing the game in all its facets and sectors.
Addressing the delegates on Wednesday, Dube-Ncube said the province wants to seize the opportunities in all the new economic frontiers of sports and digital economy for the benefit of many young people.
Dube-Ncube said the provincial government is looking at new industries of the future in order to ensure that the citizens in the province take advantage of the opportunities and they do not only become consumers of services.
She highlighted that the province reaped handsome dividends in hosting the 2010 World Cup, as it generated more than R93 billion for the country and R3 billion for the City of Durban and KwaZulu-Natal.
“We are grateful to the South African Football Association (SAFA), Confederation of African Football (CAF) and International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) for exposing our province and people to this strategic sector of the economy,” Dube-Ncube said.
Using football to protect women’s rights
The Premier challenged the delegates to use the passion for football to promote and protect the hard-won rights of women, children, and all people, regardless of their sexual or religious orientation.
She said the football game has become non-sexist, with the women leading soccer’s phenomenal growth over the past decade.
However, Dube-Ncube said the world is still dealing with unfair competition and discrimination where women can never reach the level of men, because they are “being asked to enter a 1km race, when the men are already 200metres ahead”.
“Affirmative action and corrective legislation as we know the story in South Africa, are meant to equalise opportunity and to bridge the gap between races and sexes by proving additional opportunities to those who were previously discriminated against.
“For this to happen, we call on all sponsors and the media to intensify their collaboration in support of women’s football in Africa and the world. These two working with the associations and government, can provide the support necessary for women to rise and achieve their full potential in football.
“We make this call not because it is the right thing to do, but because it makes business sense to grow the women’s market, which happens to be the majority population demographic in the world anyway,” Dube-Ncube said.
Partnerships for the future
The Premier also said the provincial government will continue to work closely with football legends in the province to develop the sport of football among boys and girls.
“We intend to invite many of them to work with our government to address some of the socioeconomic challenges we face, including substance abuse, criminality and sedentary lifestyles that are behind preventable illnesses and the deterioration of lives among the people of KwaZulu-Natal.
“We will work with the relevant structures on a focused programme that will facilitate, and fast track the development of talented footballers so that we can unlock the barriers and they can be scouted by more international clubs,” the Premier said. – SAnews.gov.za