Psychological readiness crucial ahead of 2010

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Johannesburg - Chairperson for the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee, Dr Irvin Khoza, says "psychological readiness" among South Africans is vital to create excitement ahead of the football spectacle.

Speaking at the National Communication Partnership Conference in Johannesburg on Monday, Dr Khoza said there needed to more "buzz" among South Africans and in his assessment the nation was not "feeling" the world cup buzz as yet.

"I don't feel it (World Cup). I'm sure most South Africans don't feel it as well. There's no excitement among us and the entire continent.

"The psychological readiness of the nation is critical. There is one show on the road at the moment and a psychological adjustment from all South Africans is needed," he said.

From Cape to Cairo, Dr Khoza reiterated that Africa must stand together as never before - to create "a sweet chorus singing the same song in perfect harmony."

"This world cup is the real thing. You must feel that there is something happening in this country. The banners you use must be larger than life.

"Every street corner must be filled. We must feel that this show is in town," said Dr Khoza, adding that South Africans and the rest of the continent need to be thinking of the world cup as a "30 day commercial" that will be watched by billions around the globe.

"The extent to which the tournament changes lives will be largely determined by the degree to which we use the tournament to build up to 2010.

"South Africans must realise the enormity of the opportunities that are being generated through the tournament. The world cup will be delivered on a far bigger scale than the Confederations Cup," he said, adding that psychological readiness is needed for South Africans.

He said 11 June 2010, the opening of the World Cup in Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, will be South Africa's next defining moment.

The event will define how the world sees South Africa and the continent, and assesses their potential to be "the next big thing".

Acting Chief Executive Officer of the International Marketing Council of South Africa, Paul Bannister, said with less than 300 days to the kick-off, South Africa needed to proactively push the ignition button to mobilise the whole continent.

"2010 is a powerful creator of opportunity for all and must be used as a springboard to our future.

"Importantly, as communicators we are called to define and encourage behaviors and characteristics that define our very 'South Africanness' to the world.

"We are a nation on the brink of erupting into celebration, rising up to welcome the world and sharing our unique spirit," Mr Bannister said.

For South Africa to host the best world cup ever, it does not only need best infrastructure, stadiums or logistics but social cohesion is an essential factor towards South Africa's success.

Local Organising Committee spokesperson, Rich Mkhondo affirmed that the LOC
had a very good understanding of what was needed for next year's event.

"We must be relentlessly positive as South Africans, we have the tendency to be self critical. We should see everything in perspective and importantly, see the positive stories," he said.

He referred to outstanding progress that has been made by the commitee over the past five years, through the building of six new stadiums in less than four years and the potential legacy that will be generated in terms of job creation, tourism, trade and investment.

South Africa must be proactive and stay ahead of the story - not merely reacting to everything negative being.The 2010 story is one of a continent that is being redefined in a historic way.