The third edition of the NMMU/FIFA/CIES Programme ended with a closing ceremony that took place last week in Port Elizabeth. Seventeen new alumni were awarded their diplomas, after having studied sports management during four weeks of intensive courses.

The ceremony took place in the presence of Mr Thoft Soga, Dean of Student Affairs and representative of the Vice-Chancellor of NMMU, Prof. Raj Naidoo, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Stefan Pretorius, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Prof. Denver Hendricks, CIES local coordinator, Prof. Rosa Du Randt, Programme Director and Vernon Oosthuizen, local programme coordinator.

In their addresses, both Mr Soga and Prof. Naidoo emphasized the importance of the NMMU/FIFA/CIES Programme for sports organisations in the country: "Sport is not just a matter of athletes. It also relies on the talents of competent managers. That is why we are proud of the pioneering role played by NMMU in South Africa".

Stefan Pretorius explained the challenges faced now that the World Cup is over, to avoid the Port Elizabeth stadium becoming a "white elephant". It is essential to create close links between the stadium and the community by organizing sports, commercial and cultural events and by opening certain parts of the stadium to the public, so that the local population can consider the stadium as a convivial meeting place.

In his address, CIES representative Vincent Monnier focused on the importance that the Programme has already had in the professional careers of several NMMU alumni hired by the Local Organizing Committee for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ and in the life of the alumnus currently working at FIFA headquarters.

Bareneva Bergins, as the top student of the year, ended the ceremony with a very moving speech, filled with anecdotes on the Programme and the daily life of the students during the four weeks of courses.

Congratulations to: Nigel, Wafeekah, Bareneva, Claressa, Joseph, Siyasanga, Bhekisisa, Zakhele, Cosmos, Luyolo, Abongile, Thekiso, Monica, Lubabalo, Nandisa, Sitha and Graham.