The provincial government has vowed to make the 2013 Orange Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in the Nelson Mandela Bay a success following the tournament’s flag raising ceremony in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
The occasion also launched the “Football Fridays”, a campaign through which South Africa promotes support for SA teams in international sports.
Other flags raised alongside South Africa’s were of Ghana, DR Congo, Mali and Niger. The event took place at the Vuyisile Mini Square.
MEC for sport, recreation, arts and culture Xoliswa Tom reminded those who attended the event that hard work earned the country success in the hosting of the 2010 Fifa World Cup. She encouraged officials to work even harder as Afcon “belongs to the African continent”.
“It is important to always remember that the Eastern Cape is part of the broader continent. During 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,” Tom said.
The four countries will call Nelson Mandela Bay their home when they compete in the six Group B matches at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. A quarterfinal, a third and fourth place playoff matches will also be played at the stadium.
Tom said the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality made it clear that it could not host the tournament on its own.
“They asked for the commitment of both provincial and national government.
“The national treasury has committed R15.9m while the provincial treasury committed R15.4m. The municipality will only look into the areas that are already within their mandate and are budgeted for.”
Bay metro’s acting mayor on the day, Nancy Sihlwayi, encouraged people from the province to buy tickets in order make the tournament a success.
“I bought mine already, 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 continent,” Sihlwayi said.
SA Football Association president in the Nelson Mandela Bay Mzimkhulu Fina encouraged supporters to show their support and to be patriotic as the country will be hosting the African continent.
“Fortunately we have a political leadership that is committed to this event,” said Fina.
“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 a province as it will have a positive impact on the economy and inspire our children to excel in different sporting activities.”
Article source: http://www.thenewage.co.za/70539-1016-53-PE_starts_Afcon_party