IPL to boost SA's economy, educational development

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pretoria - Despite the joy it is bringing to cricket-mad fans, the 8th Indian Premier League (IPL) will effectively boost the country's economy and educational development.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the tournament at the weekend, President Kgalema Motlanthe described the IPL as an investment in South Africa.

"The envisaged financial investment that will flow into South Africa over the next few weeks is expected to be about R1 billion," President Motlanthe said.

He added that more importantly, the tournament is also investing in the future of South Africa by ploughing back R10 million in the education and skills development of youth through scholarship funds to 300 learners and 32 schools.

The President warmly welcomed IPL teams, including more than 200 players, coaches and staff, and the fans.

He affirmed that in spite of the short notice, he had no doubt that over the next few weeks the world will witness, on South African soil, the talent and exploits of the most gifted cricketers in the world today.

"What is unique is that in the IPL tournament, those who have been playing uncompromisingly against each other - like the Proteas (South Africa) did against the Aussies (Australia) - will now play in the same teams.

"In entertaining us, the IPL teaches us this important lesson in life: no task is too big, no problem is insurmountable, no disagreement or rivalry is permanent, and every challenge is an opportunity to demonstrate our character and resilience," he said.

President Motlanthe said the fact that the IPL tournament is being played in South Africa, and not in India where it was born, forces the country to observe a moment of serious reflection.

"We must extend our sympathy and support to the people of India and the Sub-Continent who have experienced the trauma of wanton and unwarranted terrorist attacks by groups who cannot resolve differences in peaceful, tolerant and respectful ways," the President said.

It is also a tremendous vote of confidence in South Africa that the organisers of the IPL tournament have chosen South Africa to showcase the world's most outstanding cricket talent.

The President highlighted that it is a vote of confidence in South Africa's ability to host the World's premier sporting events like the IPL, the Confederations Cup and, in 2010 the FIFA World Cup.

"It is a vote of confidence in our facilities, our telecommunications capability and our cricket-loving fans who have already snapped up all the tickets for the IPL matches," he affirmed.

He said South Africa will never forget the shared history between it and India in the struggle for justice and human dignity.

"Together, we formed the greatest partnership so that India, Brazil and South Africa could stand together and navigate a path through the unpredictable waters of globalisation."

The five-week, 59-game event featuring eight teams, started this weekend in Cape Town with the Mumbai Indians taking on the Chennai Super Kings headed by national team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the first match.
The IPL, featuring the shorter Twenty20 form of the game, was shifted after some Indian state governments expressed doubts about providing adequate security as the tournament coincides with national elections.
South Africa, which hosted the first Twenty20 World Cup in 2007, beat the United Kingdom to the right to host the event by convincing the IPL that its stadiums could handle the event and draw crowds.