Brazil/Bafana friendly a feat for sports tourism

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Johannesburg – Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula says the international friendly played between five-time world champs Brazil and Bafana Bafana is a great display of South Africa’s prowess as host of sporting events.

“Last night was a great event, a partnership between government and the South African Football Association (Safa) in celebrating of 20 years of freedom and democracy. What a great achievement for South Africa in terms of sport tourism,” he said.

The minister was briefing media on the outcome of the match played by the home team and the Samba Boys at FNB Stadium on Wednesday, in which Bafana lost 5-0 to the visitors.

Despite the loss, Minister Mbalula said some great football was displayed, proving that there was no crisis of talent in South Africa.

“... The question is do we have a vision, a plan? And we have five years to turn the corner.

“As South Africa, we have to admire the greatest football nation in the world. The fact that we did not score a goal was a disappointment but nonetheless, it is not the end of the road.

“It was indeed a joyous celebration. I’ve never been to an occasion where the visiting team is celebrated, even if has defeated the home team.

“Brazil came to the party. We need to salute them for the respect they showed on the field of play and the respect they showed South Africa by bringing a squad with all the star players,” he said.

Mbalula said Brazil has a great vision when it comes to football.

“When they left South Africa after the 2010 FIFA World Cup, they dismissed the players and the coach and started afresh. They literally went out to search for talent and built this current team.

“Now they have a team which is focused, rigorous, disciplined and with a mission of winning the FIFA World Cup. I am happy that as South Africa we are going to follow their footsteps,” he said.

Safa President Danny Jordaan said last night’s friendly match achieved its objectives, which include celebrating 20 years of democracy and freedom and the legacy of the late former President Nelson Mandela, and the unveiling of the kit by both teams.

“We also celebrated the conclusion of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the beginning of the countdown to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

“We had about 61 000 people at the stadium and it was a wonderful atmosphere of celebration. Everything was a success and great, but the score was not.”

Meanwhile, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane has thanked the patriotic South Africans who turned up for the epic encounter.

“Although the score line was lamentable, it was however encouraging to see many supporters come to honour the legacy of Nelson Mandela by celebrating South Africa’s 20 years of democracy, and wishing  Brazil success in undertaking a mammoth responsibility of uniting nations through playing football - our favourite pastime,” said Premier Mokonyane on Thursday.  

She encouraged the squad to regroup and work hard to regain their confidence in preparing for future international tournaments.

U19 cricket squad does it for SA

Minister Mbalula congratulated the under-19 Cricket team for winning the World Cup in Dubai. He announced that next week, there will be a big celebration at the Sandton city centre to welcome the team.

“We need to welcome them this way because [being champions] does not just fall from [the sky]. You work for it and those boys made our country proud,” he said.

This is South Africa’s maiden ICC U19 Cricket World Cup title.

Youth development

Turning the spotlight on grooming young talent, Jordaan said the plan to build a new layer of player centres is going to be an on-going process of Safa.

The focus will be on investing in grassroots development.

SASCOC President Gideon Sam said: “We will work with the association and the Department of Sport to ensure that Safa realises its turnaround strategy of prioritising youth development. But our view is that sport, especially football in this country, must be better resourced.” - SAnews.gov.za

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