We should not be sidetracked by all the speculation

The preparations for the World Cup in 2010 were always going to attract attention and controversy, thus it does not surprise when there is so much speculation around the project.

The preparations for the World Cup in 2010 were always going to attract attention and controversy, thus it does not surprise when there is so much speculation around the project.

The reasons are many and varied, but chief among them is the multi-layered and multidisciplinary nature of the event.

This week, for instance, today to be precise, the Local Organising Committee delegation and the Fifa technical delegation are inspecting the preparations in Polokwane, while the national government in Cape Town will be announcing further financial support for the project, through Finance Minister Trevor Manuel.

The presence of Fifa in the country at the moment is geared to the venues that will host particularly the Confederations Cup and this visit is a regular twice yearly affair to update information on the technical aspects of these venues.

The financial support from the government is always substantial and is channelled to the various government departments that have to deliver on the 17 guarantees promised to Fifa.

The various departments coordinate their activities through the technical coordinating committee, of which the LOC is also a member.

This committee reviews activities that include the supply of energy, customs, taxes, roads, broadcasting technology, impact of World Cup-related investments on small businesses, health and other issues.

Similarly, at the level of the delivery of the event, we have a structure called the host city forum, to which we also report. As the name itself suggests, this is a forum where the different host cities meet to share information and ideas on how to fulfill their commitments to the World Cup 2010 as well as the more immediate tournament, the Confederations Cup in 2009.

Then you have the organising committee with its various divisions and departments, and its relationships with Fifa, Safa, professional football, sponsors, broadcasters, media, host cities, government and other stakeholders.

It is when you are inside and involved with the work of preparing the country for this event that one begins to appreciate the scope and scale of the work that has to be done.

Unfortunately, some might become overwhelmed by the tasks that lie ahead and may choose to undermine the work that is being done while many people are passionately working hard to help deliver the project on time and within reasonable costs.

By the way, did you know that more people outside the LOC than in the LOC are working on the World Cup 2010 project? Think about the construction companies and their engineers and the many ordinary workers who are working hard and feverishly to finish the stadiums on time.

I draw inspiration from the unknown people behind the scenes, especially the construction workers on site, who I am told and I can also see, are working hard and are going to deliver the Soccer City Stadium ahead of schedule.

This does not suggest that there will not be problems along the way, but rather that every day, while we focus on some aspect of the project, we should not lose sight of the fact that a lot of important and necessary work continues far away from the glare of the public and media.

For that reason we should not lose faith and become despondent when problems or issues arise elsewhere.

This tournament is going to receive further support from the people of South Africa through the financial allocation from Trevor Manuel today. Let us make sure that this support translates into focused and disciplined delivery of the World Cup. Ke Nako! Let us become the great hosts that we can be.