Campaign to fill stadiums

PASSIONATE: MEC Western Cape Whitey Jacobs. Pic. Tsheko Kabasia. © Sunday World.
PASSIONATE: MEC Western Cape Whitey Jacobs. Pic. Tsheko Kabasia. © Sunday World.

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

The Western Cape provincial government has embarked on Buyela Baleng Campaign, an initiative aimed at luring soccer supporters back to the stadiums.

Buyela Baleng, which means going back to the stadiums, was launched by Whitey Jacobs, MEC for sports and culture in the Western Cape.

The campaign, which is part of the 2010 World Cup preparations, will be launched in September as part of the Heritage month celebrations.

"We wanted to launch it now before the Vodacom Challenge, but the supporters asked us to put it on hold until during the Heritage month," said Jacobs.

"We have been meeting supporters of various clubs in the Western Cape, we've already met those of Kaizer Chiefs who have 150 000 registered supporters here.

"We will be meeting supporters of the other clubs. The aim is to encourage them to support football, irrespective of who is playing.

"It is a cause for concern to us that there are all sorts of things said when soccer is played at Newlands Stadium, especially at night.

"It is not true that blacks make noise, just go there (Newlands) on the eve of a rugby match and tell me if it is all quiet, even after the games.

"It is not true that soccer is an African sport, in the past we had white Cape Town clubs such as Hellenic and Cape Town City. They had access to all the facilities.

"But there is no space for soccer in white controlled municipalities all of a sudden," said Jacobs, who is passionate about sports deve-lopment in the Western Cape.

Jacobs also announced that the provincial government has put aside R60 million for the upgrading the Athlone Stadium.

"The renovation is well under way and we are very excited that the process is going according to plan," said Jacobs.

"We hope that the final phase will be completed mid next year, we are also in the process of upgrading the seats from 15 000 to 30 000.

"Athlone Stadium is one of the facilities that we are earmarking to be used as a training ground for the 2010 World Cup.

"The upgrading of the stadium is done in line with the international requirements of Fifa, it will be a facility that the residents of Athlone will be proud off.

"We are working hard with all the stakeholders to make the real home of football, it will be a complete soccer stadium."