Charlize Theron, the South Africa-born Oscar-award winning actress, says that hosting the FIFA World Cup™ next year will be a “magical moment” for her country.
“I’m glowing,” she enthused during an exclusive interview with FIFA.com. “I’m one proud South African today. I think everyone who is South African is so proud at this moment and glad to be alive at this period in our history. This is a magical moment for all of us; for this young democracy and for all the people who have worked hard to make this country a better place.”
The world-renowned actress will be co-hosting the Final Draw show in Cape Town, which will be aired live worldwide from 7pm local time. Theron will form part of a star-studded line-up that also includes England icon David Beckham, Olympic gold medalist Haile Gebrselassie, ruggy World Cup-winning captain, John Smit, South African cricketing great Makhaya Ntini and African football legend Roger Milla.
As she arrived for the interview after hours of gruelling rehearsal at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, Theron’s face lit up and she made a special effort of welcoming the small crew on set. This, in fact, was her enthusiastic and down-to-earth introduction: “Hi, I’m Charlize, welcome to my country. I hope you guys are loving it here.”
Such patriotism is only to be expected of someone who has earned a reputation as one of South Africa’s biggest global ambassadors in recent years. Theron even described being asked to co-host the Final Draw as “one of the greatest honours” of her life. “To have been asked to be part of this draw was an honour for me," she said. "We are all excited about this World Cup in our country, and we are aware of the legacy it will create in South Africa."
Born in Benoni, just outside Johannesburg, Theron has become one of South Africa's biggest stars, making a name for herself in Hollywood as one of the leading actresses of her generation. The 34-year-old, who is also renowned for her charitable work, is acutely aware of the impact the FIFA World Cup will have on her home country. While much has been said – right and wrongly – about South Africa’s ability to host next year's global showpiece, Theron was adamant that South Africans will use this tournament to showcase their abilities to the world. Indeed, she believes the event will herald a new dawn for her nation.
“We plan to celebrate to next year, we plan to enjoy every moment of this World Cup. This event will put incredible spotlight to this country and what we have gone through as a nation. We have travelled a long way, we have had our challenges as a young democracy, but people mustn’t forget that we have achieved so much in a short space of time."
An avid football fan, Theron said she will be rooting for South Africa's national team, Bafafana Bafana, whom she believes can surprise cause a surprise or two during the tournament. “I love football," she beamed. "There is something about this sport that is part of our culture, it is part of who we are as South Africans. Next year, I will be here supporting our national team at the World Cup, and I hope to see people from all over the world celebrating with us in our country."
She is convinced that the FIFA World Cup will leave a lasting legacy for this nation and its people. “South Africans will look back at this tournament and say: 'Finally, we have something to be proud of'. We have Nelson Mandela to thank – a man who has worked so tirelessly to convince the rest of the world that we are ready to host a competition of this magnitude.”