"The manner in which we deliver this World Cup will largely define how the world now views South Africa. This defining moment will determine whether we are seen to be just a peaceful democracy or truly alive with possibility. "

This was the message from Acting CEO of the International Marketing Council, Paul Bannister, at the fourth National Communications Partnership (NCP) Conference held at the Sandton Convention Centre yesterday.

The NCP, driven by the International Marketing Council, the custodian of Brand South Africa, and the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) department, works with communication agencies and role-players to provide strategic vision and coordinated local and international communication around the benefits of hosting the FIFA World Cup™ for South Africa and the African continent.

Guest speakers from government, the South African Police Service, FIFA, the Organising Committee, SA Tourism and the SABC, were put through their paces on various panel discussions, presenting plans and solutions to current accommodation, transport, broadcasting and tourism issues.

But it was the Minister of Transport, Mr Sibusiso Ndebele's keynote address that repositioned the role of communicators and marketers in the run up to 2010. "89 per cent of South Africans believe that the World Cup will benefit this country. It is this optimism that will ensure a successful World Cup that is distinctly African.

"As communicators, we must firstly empower our people with the necessary information about the event to prepare them to be better ambassadors. Secondly, our people must learn the national anthem and by knowing how to sing it in all the national languages, people display in a very visible manner their commitment to a nation alive with possibilities. Thirdly, we must take pride in flying the national flag, and lastly, be the best hosts that we can be and rally behind Bafana Bafana."

2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee president, Irvin Khoza, followed up this communication challenge by saying that it is important for South Africans is to understand the enormity of the project and the opportunities that go with it.

"The World Cup is a defining moment, and in order to ‘feel' the World Cup, communication messages should be centred around being positive in our portrayal of news, being proactive in our messaging to the world, and ultimately, thinking Pan African - remembering that the World Cup serves as an inspiration to the whole of Africa."

Khoza said South Africans had to think of the World Cup as a 30-day advertisement for the country that would be watched by a cumulative TV audience of billions around the globe and focus on how to make the most of that opportunity.