Celebrating the 'Year of the African Footballer'

Football mania is sweeping the world with the various football leagues and African footballers displaying their fantastic talents around the globe.

Football mania is sweeping the world with the various football leagues and African footballers displaying their fantastic talents around the globe.

Their performances underscored the declaration of this year as the "Year of the African Footballer", as declared by the African Union. The Confederation for African Football will be celebrating this very fact in South Africa from this Saturday.

Hopefully, the deliberations and celebrations that will take place in Cape Town and Nelson Mandela Bay will focus on the sustainability and support for such talent on the continent itself, because most of the cele- brated and successful African players achieve a lot more elsewhere than when playing in their domestic leagues or their home countries.

Danny Jordaan, chief executive of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the 2010 World Cup, recently lamented the fact there was not enough scientifically based development of football players. He suggested that a symposium be held to explore this challenge that has stopped so many talented youngsters from achieving their true potential.

This is a matter that I trust will receive the attention of the delegates to the 50th CAF anniversary celebrations as well as a Sports Health and Medicine conference that Victor Ramathe- sele of the LOC is working on.

Another matter that is receiving undivided attention in the committee is the preparation of the preliminary draw, which is the official kickoff of the 2010 World Cup.

The different confederations have different formats in their elimination rounds but they come together for this ceremony which, in the case of South Africa, takes place in Durban on 25 November.

Last week Oceania Confederations started the qualifiers with a match between the Solomon Islands and Samoa. The task of pulling the whole project together has been led by Stephen Watson and Leslie Sedibe and both have done an excellent job of getting the project almost to the operational stage.

Colleagues from different departments have been working around the clock to prepare for what is the first official 2010-related Fifa event. More than 204 football associations, from Argentina to Zimbabwe, are going to be represented.

The work that goes into preparing for this event is huge and requires the involvement of host city Durban and various government departments and public sector companies such as the Airports Company of South Africa. The officials from these different bodies have been working exceptionally well with the organising committee.

Closer to the time, we will be counting on our fellow citizens in the different sectors that will be providing us with services to help us give the visitors a truly warm South African welcome.

Given the amount of work that has gone into the preparations, I believe it would not be misplaced of me to confidently say that, come November, South Africa is going to lay a solid foundation for an excellent hosting of the World Cup in 2010.

l Tim Modise is the 2010 World Cup SA Local Organising Committee's head of communications. - For your suggestions, queries and more on 2010 e-mail TimM@2010saloc.com