As the one-year anniversary to celebrate Africa’s maiden hosting of the FIFA World Cup™ beckons, various football personalities have spoken passionately about not only preserving the legacy of the 2010 tournament, but also innovating new means to sustain that legacy.
Under the stewardship of Sub-Saharan African football governing body, COSAFA, CECAFA, UNIFAC, and WAFU regions including 37 federation presidents from CAF gathered in South Africa to discuss the legacy of last year’s FIFA World Cup for Africa. In attendance was FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter.
COSAFA president, Suketu Patel, said the meeting was important in mapping a way forward and to relive some of the glorious moments and memories created by hosting the world’s greatest showpiece.
“Being close to the anniversary of one of Africa’s glorious moments, when we hosted the FIFA World Cup, we as COSAFA decided to engage the South African Football Association (SAFA) on how we celebrate this moment," Patel said.
“We then approached President Blatter and we are pleased that he decided to be part of this meeting as we talk about the legacy of hosting the FIFA World Cup and its long-term benefits to Africa. He is a man who played a vital role in this journey.”
Blatter said the hosting of the FIFA World Cup has ushered in a new era for the host country and Africa as a whole. The FIFA President argued that the shift in perceptions and appreciation of Africa is probably the most significant legacy of hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
He said the smooth organisation of the event had proved even some of the continent’s most passionate doubters that Africans have the capacity to deliver and can be trusted. Blatter said it was paramount that the moment is maintained and African federations should ensure that the legacy is not eroded.
“The significance of our meeting with some of the national associations today was to define what this legacy of hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup means for Africa and ensure that we carry on with the work. It is often touching to hear stories from people in South Africa and Africa on how the hosting of the FIFA World Cup impacted their lives,” the FIFA President said.
“But we must ask: where do we go with this legacy? We all know that the 2010 FIFA World Cup was a tremendous financial success. After the FIFA World Cup, we were able to provide the Member Associations with additional financial assistance.”
Blatter praised the role of former South African president Nelson Mandela, who had played an ambassadorial role for his country. He spoke fondly about Madiba’s efforts and contribution, not only to Africa but to the world.
“You will remember that the 2010 FIFA World Cup was to celebrate humanity; it means that football is more than just a game, but about touching lives. And there is no better person who represents that humanity than Nelson Mandela. He is the man who worked tirelessly when South Africa was bidding for the FIFA World Cup. He worked hard in changing things for his country.”
South African Minister of Sport, Fikile Mbalula, said it was important that Africans use the celebrations for the one-year anniversary of hosting the tournament to talk about means to preserve the legacy.
“I would like to express our gratitude to the leadership of COSAFA for making this event possible. We are inspired by the glorious memories of the hosting of the FIFA World Cup last year. Talking about the FIFA World Cup is as important as talking about the fight for the emancipation of our people from the injustice of apartheid and imperialism.
“We celebrate this anniversary with zeal. Hosting the FIFA World Cup will remain one of the biggest milestones for our country. Africa today is taking its place in the world stage. We would like to thank President Blatter for believing in us, for affording this country to make huge investments in infrastructure and development. We hope that the legacy of the FIFA World Cup will continue to inspire our people to believe that there is a future for all.”
FIFA has invested about 468,200,000 USD in the last 12 years in the African continent. This was spread out through various programmes and channels, mainly focusing on five main tools: financial support through FAP; project funding through Goal; football equipment; training and expertise are complementary to each other and adaptable to the specific needs and potential of each FA.
There have been more than 450 courses in Africa from the host announcement in 2004 to June 2011 (more than 30 per cent of the total courses organised by FIFA worldwide) – at a cost of 14.6 million USD.
The Football for Hope movement has been planting seeds of self-belief and self-worth to Africans by building centres that will be used to empower local youths. We cannot overestimate the role of education to enhance Africa’s cause. Education will not only help the African child, but it will spread the message to the rest of the world that Africans are capable of doing things themselves.