It’s the lasting legacy the World Cup created we should cherish

2010-07-11 11:37

The impact of the 2010 Fifa World Cup will be felt for a long time to come in South Africa.

Prior to the event, football, which is the No?1 sport, relied heavily on rugby stadiums for big matches.

For years rugby had been able to build world-class facilities, thanks to the advantages the sport enjoyed from the old order. But the World Cup has left this country with world-class stadiums. This week even Fifa president Sepp Blatter declared that no European country boasted such stadiums.

Besides iconic stadiums such as Soccer City, Moses Mabhida, Greenpoint, Nelson Mandela Bay, Mbombela and Peter Mokaba, even stadiums upgraded to be used as training venues – Orlando, Dobsonville, Athlone, Umlazi, KwaMashu and Rand – stand their ground.

This is a lasting legacy. However, the challenge is now over to the ­Absa Premiership team players to ensure that they dish up top quality soccer week in and week out. Another positive from the World Cup is the experience of the African children who participated as player escorts and ball crews; they rubbed shoulders with some of the greatest players and this will forever remind them that indeed “I was there”.

Now the chances of many of them pursuing soccer as a career and ending up being world stars are possible. It was also an eye-opener for the volunteers who worked at different stations such as airports and stadiums – the experience they gained is priceless. The football officials who were chosen to manage stadiums and media personnel assigned to different media centres must also have learned something that should take them to another level. Besides the stories that referee Jerome Damon – about whom a TV documentary has been made – and assistant referee Enock Molefe will tell to their children and grandchildren about their participation in the World Cup, they will be able to ­impart such valuable knowledge to their colleagues as well.

And lastly, the money generated for the SA Football Association – said to be in the region of R800?million to R1?billion – will go a long way in strengthening the country’s development programmes.

Such is the legacy of the Fifa World Cup.

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