THE Abaqulusi municipality in Vryheid, northern KwaZulu-Natal, will spend R1million in the next four months to position itself for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
The money is part of a R5,6million capital budget for sports development, which includes construction of five sporting fields, expansion of a swimming pool to Olympic standards and other projects.
Mayor George Dlamini told journalists yesterday that part of their World Cup preparations would begin with the hosting of a Mayoral Cup.
Young people are expected to participate in this year's event, which will take place on Saturday.
Dlamini said poverty was rife in the area, which was why the council wanted to encourage young people to participate in sport.
"We have huge developmental challenges in our area and this includes sporting facilities, but we believe that by hosting such an event we will be able to deal with some of the challenges," Dlamini said.
He said all the sporting codes would be covered on Saturday.
"People can lead high-profile lives while being involved in sport, which is why we are encouraging young people to take part.
"The World Cup will come to our shores simply because the country has been able to produce sporting personalities that the world can look up to," he said.
Dlamini said they hoped to attract thousands of tourists to the area during the soccer extravaganza next year.
"We have a lot to offer tourists and want to showcase what we have as a municipality and region.
"The World Cup is not only about 90 minutes on the playing field but has to benefit communities. Our community cannot be left out," Dlamini said.
Municipality corporate services manager Archie Khumalo said they wanted to change the image of the Abaqulusi municipality.
"Our municipality has been in a cocoon for a very long time. We are going to change that," he said.
Khumalo said that besides looking at tourism and sports development, they also wanted to showcase the role arts and culture can play in combating poverty.
"Some local young people went to Holland and France last year to take part in an arts festival and exhibitions.
"This shows that if a young person puts his or her mind to something the sky is the limit," Khumalo said.