Northern Cape to climb on 2010 bandwagon

All reports by Ramatsiyi Moholoa

All reports by Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Northern Cape may not have a 2010 World Cup host city, but various stakeholders in the province are gradually getting themselves ready for the quadrennial soccer showpiece.

The premier, Dipuo Peters, said the World Cup provided a great vehicle for them to promote the province and lure tourists from across the globe, and other parts of South Africa.

Northern Cape is the only South African province that failed in its bid to host the World Cup, but that has not dampened the spirits of the people in the area ahead of the multi-million rand tournament.

The Free State government displayed their unselfishness by forming a strategic partnership with Northern Cape to ensure that their neighbours also benefited from the massive opportunities offered by the World Cup.

In support of President Thabo Mbeki's statement when the country won the bid that it will be an African World Cup, the Free State government has also engaged neighbouring Lesotho to form a tripartite alliance.

The municipalities of Mangaung (Bloemfontein), Sol Plaatje and Maseru will also be working together at local government level on various partnership to extensively benefit from the tournament.

"The most important opportunity for Northern Cape is that a partnership has already been established with the Free State province, and more especially the Mangaung Municipality," said Peters.

Peters said roping in Northern Cape and Sol Plaatje municipality to take part in the Free State and Mangaung municipality structures and planned activities puts them within the mainstream activities of the World Cup.

One of the recommendations by the Free State government is that Northern Cape should start planning for a venue that will be used for training purposes by some of the participating countries during the World Cup.

The stadium will be one of the legacy projects of the World Cup.

Peters is confident that Northern Cape has the capacity to host any of the 32 countries during the World Cup for training purposes, saying their presence will assist in the development of the beautiful game in the province.

"We have successfully hosted big Premier Soccer League matches featuring top clubs such as Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Ajax Cape Town and Platinum Stars during the 2005-06 soccer season.

"We want to promote Northern Cape as a tourist destination for 2010 and beyond," said Peters, adding that their preparations with Sol Plaatje were well on track.

The diamond- rich Northern Cape province has produced some big-name South African soccer players such as the late Jacob "Pro" Pilane, Jimmy Tau, Fabian McCarthy and Gert Schalkwyk, to name but a few.

Meanwhile, the province has established a political 2010 World Cup committee which is led by MEC of sports, arts and culture Fred Wyngaard.