SA urged to rally behind Proteas

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Johannesburg - The support generated for Bafana Bafana during the 2010 FIFA World Cup must now be given to the national cricket team - the Proteas. 

The plea was made by Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula during the 20th anniversary of the South African Football Association (Safa) in Johannesburg on Wednesday. 

"The spirit of the 2010 FIFA World Cup must continue, and the all-round support we generated for Bafana Bafana must now be inculcated into massive and overwhelming support for the Proteas.

"The memories of the 2010 FIFA World Cup are still very fresh in our minds and these are memories we want to cherish forever, and out of them develop ideas that will create meaningful opportunities and benefits for all South Africans," he said.

The Proteas are fighting for the International Cricket Council (ICC) world championship, which is being played in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The Proteas will be looking for yet another victory when they play against New Zealand in their quarter-final match in Bangladesh on Friday. 

Shortly before the ICC World Cup, Mbalula launched the Magnificent Friday campaign aimed at rallying the nation behind the South African national cricket team.

It is an ongoing nationwide campaign which cuts across various sectors. It will also be spread to the South African Netball and Rugby teams as they take part in the world championships in July and September respectively, later this year. 

"Our support for the boys is unwavering. For now, we want to appeal to all South Africans to redouble their efforts by ensuring that the momentum building up towards the ICC World Cup is maintained. 

"The support of various government delegates [and President Jacob Zuma] must now be amplified and propel the Proteas to victory when we meet New Zealand at the quarter-finals on Friday," said Mbalula.

The minister said he would be jetting off to Bangladesh to personally give the Proteas a message of support, as well as to encourage them to win against New Zealand. 

Safa President Kirsten Nematandani also wished the Proteas good luck. "Minister, we want you to convey our good luck message to Proteas players. Our support is also unwavering."

Mbalula also wished Bafana Bafana good luck on the crucial 2012 African Nations Cup qualifier match against the Egyptians to be played on Saturday evening at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg.

"We want to wish Bafana Bafana good luck in their crucial encounter against the Egyptians ... We need to show them we are also still fresh from the 2010 FIFA World Cup," he said.

The association's communications and media director, Morio Sanyane, said a total of 21 000 tickets have been sold for Saturday's 2012 Afcon encounter. 

"We want to urge South Africans to buy the tickets because we need 60 000 people at that stadium on Saturday," he said.