2010 World Cup draw a toast
"After Sunday, we want to make sure that all of you leave here as Thomases."
These were the words of the Chief Executive Officer of the Fifa 2010 World Cup Local Organising (LOC) Committee, Danny Jordaan, when addressing a media briefing last Thursday.
This was before the preliminary draw of the world spectacle that's headed to these shores in just over 900 days.
Addressing more than a 1 000 local and international journalists at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre, Jordaan, said the LOC wanted to make a statement to the world of its intent to stage a world-class event in 2010 and that the draw was such a platform as it was a defining moment.
The country's ability to host the game of billions and the world's best in 2010 since being awarded the rights to host on May 15, 2004, has been questioned and put under a microscope by everyone, including some locals.
That's why Jordaan uttered those words. And how right he was.
From the first day that some of us descended on this KwaZulu-Natal coastal city last Tuesday, the staff put together to make sure things ran smoothly and that delegates were adequately attended to in their various roles at the draw, were a pleasure to work with.
Moeketsi Mosola, the Chief Executive Officer of South African Tourism, was extremely excited about the significance of the success of the preliminary draw and the confidence it gave the international community.
"I think if there was any doubt, the world saw what South Africa is capable of. We are very proud of what the South African LOC has put together and as a South African I feel very proud of what happened here tonight."
"We have always known that we can actually do this in 2010. People will leave this country knowing exactly that World Cup 2010 is in safe, good hands, and basically people need to start booking their holidays come 2010," said Mosola.
Ghanaian football legend, Abédi Pelé, was equally delighted by the success of the preliminary draw.
"I think it's unbelievable that today all those who didn't have the confidence in us are all very happy. That's why they say this is the power of football, football brings people together. We have proved to the world that we cannot only play the game, but we can host it as well," said Pele.
The visibility of the SAPS was the first thing that struck one, from the airport right through to the city and its surroundings.
I never felt safer in my life. At some stage one
even felt it was an overkill (excuse the pun) all because of the issue about crime.
The who's who of football were there - former France captain Marcell Desailly, Michel Platini, now Uefa president, Christian Karembeu and former US national team goalie, Kassey Keller. George Weah, Abedi Pele, Kalusha Bwalya, Franz Beckenbauer, Phillip Scolari (the World Cup winning Brazillian coach of Portugal) and Dutch coach Marco van Basten also graced the event.
All agreed it was a wonderful event that blew their minds.
Indeed, there were a lot of Thomases after the event. Too many to quote, but suffice to say, in the words of LOC Chairman, Irvin Khoza, "mission accomplished!"
Roll on 2010!
lAdditional reporting by Fifa.com