Why you don’t have to be high to be positive about 2010

2008-05-02 00:00

Two separate opinion surveys released last week suggest that South Africans are feeling marginally less optimistic that their country will be ready and prepared to host a successful Fifa World Cup in 2010; perhaps the combination of power cuts, petrol price and interest rate hikes has sapped morale.

According to the latest quarterly report published by African Response, levels of confidence that SA will seize this historic opportunity and shine have dipped to a decidedly downbeat 59% in Cape Town, an increasingly doubtful 70% in Johannesburg and a warily cautious 74% in Pretoria. Happily, the sun still shines in Durban, where 82% of the population believe everything will be all right.

In the same vein, internal research commissioned by one of the tournament’s commercial partners has detected a blip on the road to the mega-month when this country will welcome the world’s top footballers, pursued by 6 000 media, an expected 450 000 visiting supporters and a cumulative TV audience of 40 billion.

Identifying trends in human sentiment is always an art and never a perfect science, yet these results should not be dismissed with the shrug of an officially-blazered shoulder.

In reality, there are no grounds for feeling even marginally less optimistic about 2010. The World Cup will be an unqualified success, and here is an easy-to-remember explanation why.

Think DAGGA.

D is for "done it before". When anybody says they are going to do anything, the first question to ask is whether they have done it before. In 1995, SA staged what is widely recognised as the best ever Rugby World Cup. In 2003, the country hosted an outstanding Cricket World Cup. Both events unfolded as joyful, incident-free, entertaining advertisements, both for the respective sports and the host nation. In terms of supplying infrastructure and human skills, all wrapped in boundless passion, SA has done it before and will do it again.

A is for "able Fifa", this country’s partners in organising the event. The impeccably qualified, highly capable men and women employed by the world governing body of football preside over this 32-team event, and they draw upon the accumulated experience and know how to ensure that, with few exceptions, each World Cup turns out to be measurably better than the last. Many of these pin-striped professionals are now based at the Fifa office in Johannesburg, and many more shuttle back and forth from Zurich. They know what needs to be done, they have the means to get it done, and it will be done.

G is for "government". It has been said that the chicken is involved in the preparation of bacon and eggs, but only the pig is truly committed. From providing the initial guarantees to Fifa, to seconding cabinet ministers as chairmen of LOC board sub-committees, by making themselves available and supporting the process every step of the way, the elected representatives of the people have been and remain utterly committed.

G is for "gees". It’s a word not easily translated into other languages. It describes something deep within all South African people. It is an attitude forged by the hardships of history, a determination soaked in courage and guts, a collective will to get involved and get the job done. From hotel porters to the president, many millions of South Africans feel a personal stake in 2010, and they’ll make it happen.

A is for "African smiles". For 30 days of glory and indelible memories in 2010, a curious world will turn its gaze on the southern tip of this continent, and be delighted and revived by the open-hearted, beaming smiles of people who have waited so long for this chance.

So, if you do decide to be an outspoken 2010 optimist, and if some whinger ever responds by suggesting you "must be on DAGGA", you will now be able to say they’re right and proceed to explain precisely why.

oEdward Griffiths is a journalist, author, former CEO of SA Rugby, general manager of SATV sport and involved in various SA bid campaigns.

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