Nostalgia of the successful hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium was evident today when the flags of Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and Niger were hoisted in front of the Port Elizabeth City Hall on Vuyisile Mini Square ahead of the 2013 Orange Africa Cup of Nations.
Eastern Cape MEC for Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture Xoliswa Tom reminded guests that during the 2010 FIFA World Cup hard work was put in to make the event a success and encouraged officials to work even harder as Afcon belongs to us (the African continent).
“It is important to always remember that the Eastern Cape is part of the broader continent. During the times of the apartheid struggle African countries were our homes. We must then remember that the countries that will be coming here are brothers and sisters that provided a home for us when we were ill-treated in our own country,” she said.
The four countries will call Nelson Mandela their home when they compete in the six Group B matches at the iconic Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. A quarter-final and a third and fourth place play-off match will also be hosted at the stadium.
Dealing with the important matter of funding for the tournament, MEC Tom said the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality made it clear that it cannot host the tournament on its own.
“They asked for the commitment of both provincial and national government. The national treasury has committed R15.9 million while the Provincial treasury committed R15.4 million. The municipality will only look into the areas that are already within their mandate and are budgeted,” she added.
Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Acting Executive Mayor Nancy Sihlwayi encouraged people from the Eastern Cape to go out and buy tickets in order make the tournament a success.
“I bought mine already and it is up to you to be part of this momentous occasion by also watching the matches at our stadium.
“Hosting this tournament is in line with South Africa’s commitment to the development and well-being of the whole continent,” she said.
Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s Portfolio Chairperson for Recreational Services, Cllr Babalwa Lobishe, said we all need to be behind the tournament and give it our full support.
“As the host city in the Eastern Cape we are for the first time reviving what we experienced in 2010. Let us celebrate the cultural vibrancy that this tournament will bring every Friday. Football Fridays are now back as we countdown to the African spectacle,” she said.
South African Football Association Nelson Mandela Bay President Mzimkhulu Fina encouraged supporters to show their hunger for football and to be patriotic as South Africa will be hosting the African continent.
“Fortunately we have a political leadership that is committed to this event. We do not want anyone linking this tournament with other issues, like floods and fires that affected the region. This is a tournament that we need as the province, as it will have a positive impact on the economy and inspire our children to excel in different sporting activities,” he added.