World Cup success hinges on collective effort

As Hurricane Gustav rampaged through Cuba over the last few days, leaving devastation in its wake, my thoughts went to the hospitable people of that country.

As Hurricane Gustav rampaged through Cuba over the last few days, leaving devastation in its wake, my thoughts went to the hospitable people of that country.

I had just been to the country a few days earlier where I met with the South African ambassadors to the North, Central, South Americas and the Caribbean countries.

The workshops and meetings that we held there exposed me to the enthusiasm of our representatives to promote the country and the Confederations Cup and World Cup to the football mad fans of especially the Latin American countries.

A lot of support and involvement is being offered, and this augurs well for the promotion of tourism to the country in those relatively new markets. The changing natural phenomena around the world is definitely something we should all be concerned about as we focus on the World Cup.

On a different note altogether, a couple of weeks ago, Danny Jordaan, the CEO of the Organising Committee was on hand to witness the Jamaican sensation, Usain Bolt break records at the Olympics in Beijing.

He was there on a mission to prepare the new intense media focus that is going to be placed on our preparations for the World Cup in 2010 and the Confederations Cup next year.

Already there are people around the world and here in the country who are suggesting that they expect our opening ceremonies to top what happened in Beijing. Quite frankly, that will not happen for the simple reason that the football tradition requires that the game be the focus, the opening ceremony be short and that the pitch be protected. Above that, the investment made by the Chinese in the Beijing Olympics, particularly the opening and closing ceremonies will not be matched any time soon by any host country.

Look at the numbers: The Beijing Olympics cost $44 billion, or R380 billion to stage, compared to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa that will cost less that R40billion.

The Beijing ceremonies cost $800 million dollars, or R6,4billion, an amount that no South African will approve.

Talking about numbers, the Organising Committee is very pleased that the volunteer drive went very well and that after two months of registration for 4 000 positions we ended up with 40000 people, indicating an interest to take part as volunteers.

This is a great indication to us that many fellow South Africans want to play a role in the hosting of the Confederations Cup and that they are prepared to do it for free.

We were able to attract citizens from all fields of endeavour and we are confident that we will identify the right candidates in the next couple of months. The identified candidates will undergo training early next year. Once again, thank you Mzansi!

Another statistic worth noting is the contribution that the World Cup project is making in creating employment. According to the Labour Research report, more than 20000 jobs have been created as a result of the construction and upgrade of stadiums.

Added to that are thousands of other jobs created by subcontractors to the main contractors. It is great that at this time of the preparations, the event is having such an effect on our communities and livelihoods of the thousands of families.

All these numbers and their effect tell one story, and that is: "It is the thousands of people who will make the World Cup and the Confederations the success that they will be."

As the Local Organising Committee we are proud of all those who have indicated an interest to be our volunteers and proud of those who are racing to finish the stadiums on time.

Ke Nako!