New beginning for 2010 host cities

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Johannesburg - After years of preparation, development, planning and excitement, Nelspruit, Polokwane and Mangaung/Bloemfontein are now looking at what they can take from the experience they gained by hosting the world's biggest sporting event, now that their World Cup duties are over.

Nelspruit's Mbombela stadium has hosted some of the tournament's most exciting clashes while bringing the fanfare of the World Cup to the people of Mpumalanga province, reports SouthAfrica.info.

"This tournament has placed Nelspruit on the map," Differ Mogale, Nelspruit's 2010 coordinator, said this week. "We know we are a city that has hosted the world's biggest tournament."

Nelspruit was the site of the Socceroos' swansong, as they beat Serbia 2-1 in their final group game. "One of the biggest bars in the city was sold out of beer as the Australian fans celebrated. Moments like this show us that we are not living in isolation, but part of the world and the bigger picture," Mogale said.

Looking to the future, Nelspruit hopes to capitalise on the success of the World Cup. "People are still excited. We did well during the tournament, this experience will help us be the best city for our people and citizens."

Polokwane was another host city that received a built-from-scratch stadium ahead of the tournament, bringing the people of Limpopo province closer to both the tournament action and making the city eligible for future large-scale sporting fixtures.

"The experience itself was remarkable for us as a city," said Ndavhe Ramakuela, Polokwane's 2010 coordinator. "The support from the local people has been great, there were 30 000 spectators plus for every game. This cemented the belief that we are capable of hosting big events like the FIFA World Cup."

The Peter Mokaba stadium hosted the France vs Mexico clash, one of the most important matches for the group that contained the host nation. "The people of Limpopo are big football fans, and we were excited for all the games. There was great support, and already people are excited for the next match in the stadium," said Ramakuela.

Polokwane will take more than infrastructure and development out of hosting the FIFA World Cup. "The city has learnt a lot. We now have the skills to run mega projects set to global standards; we have come a long way," said Ramakuela.

As England fell to Germany and left the World Cup, so too did the fixture signalling the end of match days in the city of Mangaung/Bloemfontein. "We feel extremely delighted to have been a part of hosting the 2010 World Cup," said George Mohlakoana, Mangaung/Bloemfontein's 2010 coordinator. "And to have England and German was very lucky, it was a quarter or a semi in itself."

Like many of the other host cities, Mangaung/Bloemfontein will inherit improved infrastructure, including road upgrades, stadium upgrades and improved transport systems. "There is sadness that we will not be hosting anymore games. But we are very happy with what we have achieved. Our city's experience in event delivery and infrastructure will last long after the tournament is over," said Mohlakoana.

For Mangaung/Bloemfontein, the experience of hosting the tournament has demonstrated the capacity of the city to host major events. "There is a passion for the game of football, our fans have been shown to the international community and they are now famous outside of the country. The electric atmosphere of our stadium is something fans will want to experience again.

"The main element is to build on what we have achieved and ensure South Africa grows from this in leaps and bounds."

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