South coast wins World Cup bonus

2010-05-25 00:00

THE Ugu District Municipality is set to host Algeria, who have chosen the Ugu Sports and Leisure Centre as their training base camp for the World Cup.

Phase one of the R104 million sports complex was opened by KwaZulu-Natal Local Government MEC Nomusa Dube at a gala function attended by thousands of local residents, all wanting to catch a glimpse of the world-class facility.

The training centre consists of two Fifa-approved soccer fields, change rooms for players and technical staff, and medical facilities.

While the sports centre was never planned as a World Cup training base, South Coast Tourism CEO Michael Bertram said it is a “wonderful bonus” that Algeria have chosen to train there.

The team had first chosen to stay at Zimbali Lodge on the north coast, but then looked around the province for an alternative base camp.

The Ugu Municipality had previously bid for Portugal because of the large Portuguese community on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast, but were unsuccessful.

Within 72 hours of hearing that Algeria were looking for another venue, Bertram and his team held an emergency meeting to discuss their plans to bid.

“We were unsuccessful with [the Portugal] bid. However, we are ecstatic that Algeria will be based here. It means so much for the community who are all excited,” he said.

Algerian team officials have visited the complex and the hotel, La Monazur, and expressed their satisfaction.

“We have offered to set up a special prayer room at the complex for players, but they have requested to pray in their rooms. It’s vital that they are comfortable,” he said.

Paul Watson, senior manager at Ugu’s project management unit, said the complex will be handed over to Fifa on Friday to set up for the team.

He said that once the World Cup is over, the complex will be used to host soccer and rugby events. “Several English Premier League and other European teams have expressed an interest in training at the centre. We want to ensure that the complex is sustainable,” he said.

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