How Hosting The 2010 World Cup Has Transformed A Nation

Now is a hell of a time to be a South African or in South Africa.

The country is buzzing with a great expectation. Africa’s super power is slowing waking up to the possibilities of being a global player; whether in sports, the G20, or as the regional big player, thing(s) are happening to this sleeping giant that could help transform the continent.  A nation of roughly around 49 million and five times the size of Britain, South Africa have a lot to be proud of. None more so than being host to the 2010 World cup. Hosting the 2010 World Cup has been a major accomplishment for South Africa’s soccer mad black majority. Preparations are steaming ahead. Roads, bridges and accommodations are all being constructed at a phenomenal rate and many of the projects are on time.

A month ago, for the FIFA’s World Cup draw, the world saw the likes of David Beckham, Charlize Theron, Gabriel Salassie along with South African, African and international stars descended on Cape Town, the mother city (as its locally known) for an evening of spectacular entertainment  to showcase the cream of African talent.   For many in Africa and South Africa this is a time of pride.   Hosting the 2010 World Cup ……the biggest sporting event in the world has electrified this part of the globe. A new found respect and self confidence are coming to South Africans. Gleaming new stadiums have halted the fear and alarm about delays which many in the international community thought would plague this African nation. Airports in Johannesburg and Cape Town have received facelifts, in order to accommodate the 500,000 fans and officials expected to attend this major showpiece. The South Africa Authorities are doing everything possible to streamline immigration, visas, work permits and customs in order to make travel to the country both easy and efficient for the flow of the fans and officials.

Investment Opportunities

The ruling ANC president Jacob Zuma in his New Year’s  statement proclaimed 2010 as the most important year in the country’s history since 1994 when apartheid ended. With the world’s eyes on South Africa for a month, politicians are keen on showing South Africa as a new nation. It’s an opportunity for them to show the world that any remnants of the old apartheid system are long gone. Billions are being spent to showcase to the world how much SA has change, and that the nation is about to enter a new phase.

However many South Africans are still bitter about the past. Engage in any conversation with a black South African on the apartheid era or the present situation and the resentment soon quickly bubble to the surface.  Whites are still living large while the poor struggle to survive. According to one report whites are doing better now than even in the apartheid era.  Except for a few middle class blacks from the ruling elite, the majority of blacks are still struggling to make a living. From health to housing to the economy or education, blacks are still trying to crawl out of the deep schism that the apartheid system created. The government has a huge task ahead of it of trying to bring together this once divided nation.

The 2010 World Cup besides being a major sporting event is a huge money spinner that will leave a substantial tourism legacy. The South African Tourism Authorities seeks to derive lasting effects from this history making extravaganza and hugely marketing phenomena. According to a study by Grant Thornton Strategic Solution, the world cup is expected to contribute over 4 billion pounds to the South African economy and create 415,500 direct jobs. It is also expected to attract multi billion dollar investments to South Africa and the continent.

Furthermore,  it is expected  to beef up and transform South Africa’s hi tech system in transport, broadcasting., security and propel it into a 21st century, thus making the nation a beacon for technological development . For example, for the first time in the history of the world cup fans will have digital broadcast video, which means they can see the matches on their phones.  In addition, the unprecedented coverage of the 2010 FIFA’s World Cup could add another two million tourists or more coming to see where Africa’s first Football World Cup was held.

Point To Prove

Since winning the opportunity to host the 2010 World Cup, South Africa has had to weather the storm of skepticism and misrepresentation about corruption, their ability to finish the infrastructure on time and the high levels of crime in the country as both a deterrent and a problem for fans and football officials.  South African officials have remained steadfast in their determination to put on a successful World Cup and have responded to the naysayers  by pointing  out  that not only have  major events have been held in  the country before, such as the Ruby World Cup,  Confederations Cup, international cricket and golf tournaments,  and (but)all went (came) off smoothly.

They point out that they are ready and prepared for any disruptions that might attempt to plague the football World Cup on African soil and is confident police officials can handle any unforeseen event that may surface at the World Cup. Officials believe that this is a once in a life time opportunity to show the world what Africa has to offer. And they will not let some insignificant group or individual take centre stage as at the recent African Nation’s Cup when the Togolese team was attacked by a motley band of opportunistic bandits masquerading as rebels.

South Africa has a point to prove. They want to demonstrate that an African nation is more than capable of taking on the 2010 World cup and doing it successfully.  The government has the full backing of ordinary South Africans. Hosting the FIFA’s World Cup has been a source of pride for the ordinary South Africans. Being the first African country to ever host the World Cup has meant a firm return to the international arena after years out in the wilderness. Moreover it will also be an opportunity to show the world what South Africa has to offer outside what is known about the country as an apartheid state. Radio, television and newspapers and the population are all doing their part to make sure that the 2010 World Cup is a resounding success. The media are promoting the World Cup here in South Africa at a feverish pitch.

The moment you switch on your radio, watch television or read the newspapers you’re constantly reminded of how many days are left before the 2010 World Cup, the giving away of prizes, promoting walks, rides, or entertainment around the event. The 2010 World Cup has brought a new dawn to SA in particular and Africa in general. I don’t think Africa will ever be the same after the World Cup no matter the outcome. I’m looking forward to the 2010 World Cup with pride as an Afro Caribbean. However the recent attacks on the Togolese team in Angola attending the African Nation’s Cup have seen the resurgence of the cynics and critics s once again questioning the safety of the World Cup and stoking the flames of doubt and misrepresentation.

Understandably there were those in European football and else where who were questioning the wisdom of granting such a major event to an African country. This is the first time in 100 years that any African nation has hosted the biggest sporting event on the planet. South Africa is showing the doubters, the cynics, and unbelievers that not only can this African country host the football World Cup but intend to make this 2010 World Cup an exceptional one.

The Director of the World Cup in South Africa Danny Jordaan has promised to stage the best World Cup in FIFA’s history. He claims that South Africa will show the rest of the world what they have been missing for the past 100 years. For example six of the ten new stadiums being built here for this show piece will be in the top 10 best stadiums in the world. South Africa has done what many thought would be impossible.…….. to finish the huge building program on time. The critics have now been reduced to scurrying around looking for anything to criticize. South Africa has done Africa proud.  There is an advertisement on South African television that says “Africa time isn’t coming it has come” I would endorse that.

Graham Gibson is a Bajan living in South Africa who eagerly looks forward to the start of 2010 FIFA World Cup. He holds a BA in Politics & MA in journalism. Other credits: 10 years as an assistant to one of Britain’s first black members of Parliament, Bernie Grant MP. US trained  Life Coach. Last 4 years  living in Senegal West Africa  working for the British Council teaching a leadership Program to young Senegalese.

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2 Responses to How Hosting The 2010 World Cup Has Transformed A Nation

  1. Pingback: 2010 World Cup Opening Ceremony « Bajan Global Report

  2. Pingback: Brazil Ousted From WC 2010 Cuh Dear! « Bajan Global Report

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