Beach soccer: R10 mln goal

2012-11-09 00:00

RICHARDS Bay could host a Brics beach soccer cup next year — if the council can find R10 million.

The Fifa-sanctioned event, with the support of the South African Football Association (Safa) will, if it comes to play, attract teams from the Brics partners — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

However the South African beach soccer team, which has seen its budget slashed this year due to Safa’s financial woes, might not be up to scratch unless money can be found to help it prepare.

But if all goes according to plan, the city of uMhlathuze expects to position itself as a hub for beach soccer development in South Africa through the legacy programmes and the forecast media exposure.

Mayor Elphas Mbatha said that although the council was willing to take on the challenge of hosting an international event, money was tight and unless the private sector and government could assist, the council would not be able to carry the R13,7 million price tag.

“Our beach is up to standard to host such an event, but funding is the issue. We have allocated R3 million to the event and would welcome any local sponsorship,” said Mbatha.

Big name sponsors such as Vodacom and MTN had been approached, but have yet to respond.

The event is expected to take place from March 14-18, a week before a scheduled BRICS Summit in Durban. It will feature14 matches and a celebrity clash, and will incorporate beach soccer clinics, beach soccer foundation activities and a beach clean-up.

Entertainment will include a beach party, bikini competition and live music.

According to a presentation made to council, the tournament will be broadcast live, beaming into 250 million households in 180 countries, while revenue would be generated from tourism numbers, legacy projects and ticket sales.

It is unclear whether the city would benefit from any television rights or how many tourists will be attracted to the city.

Alkantstrand Beach, which has Blue Flag status, will be kitted out with a mobile stadium in which all the events will be played.

But the high-risk, five day event, which carries a projected insurance and security price tag of at least R450 000, will need funding in order to come to play while the majority of Zululand’s best accommodation venues would need to be booked out soon to accommodate players, dignitaries, match officials, workers and management.

The council has set December 20 as a cut-off date for government institutions and sponsors to declare their interest and financial commitments towards the project.

uMhlathuze played host to the Nigerian national team during the 2010 FIfa World Cup.

The visitors were given a heroes’ welcome and trained in the purpose built uMhlathuze Stadium, which has now become the home ground for national first division team Thanda Royal Zulu.

Safa CEO Robin Petersen said in a letter of endorsement that Safa might need a grant to get the South African team match-ready.

“Due to funding cuts in Safa this year … funding for our national beach football team has been significantly constrained.

“We ask that in your funding model …that a grant be made to Safa to assist us in preparing a competitive team.”

Petersen said that although Safa must be involved in most of the decision making, there must be “no financial costs to the association”.

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