For almost two years, David Mcira has laboured tirelessly as part of the team constructing a venue that is fondly referred to as the ‘Cathedral of football’ in South Africa, Soccer City. Today, he is all smiles, not only because the “African Calabash” is now standing tall south of Johannesburg, but because he will be among the thousands of football fans who will watch the very first FIFA World Cup™ match to be played on African soil when South Africa takes on Mexico on 11 June as part of the Ticket Fund initiative.
Soccer City is the venue where some of the brightest stars in world football will parade their skills when the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ kicks off in South Africa in under 40 days. The venue will also host the Final on 11 July.
Mcira is one of the stadium constructions workers across the country who have been rewarded with two tickets each at the respective venues where they worked. This is part of 120,000 complimentary category 4 tickets that will be allocated to South Africans involved directly with the 2010 FIFA World Cup and in worthy social and development initiatives linked to the tournament.
Part of Soccer City
As the rain poured consistently in Johannesburg on Monday, hundreds of Soccer City construction workers braved the chilly weather, dancing, ululating and blowing their vuvuzelas to celebrate the news that they will see action live during the event. Predictably, all will be coming to support Bafana Bafana as the country’s national team embark on their journey to bring smiles and joy to many hearts in South Africa.
Mcira has seen the reinvention of Soccer City - from the old 80,000 seater to a state of the art Calabash. “This is exciting news for us as workers. I was here when we laid the first brick here at Soccer City [after the demolition of the then FNB Stadium], and I’m very happy about the fact that I will come again, this time not to work, but to enjoy good football at this stadium,” he said.
The objective of the Ticket Fund is to give a unique opportunity to South Africans who, otherwise, may not have been able to purchase a ticket for the FIFA World Cup matches. About 54,000 tickets out of the 120,000 will go to the construction workers at all the stadiums in the nine host cities.
Eleven-year-old Philani Ndlovu hails from the impoverished Orange Groove informal settlement, and she is one of the beneficiaries of the Ticket Fund. Her hero is South Africa’s midfield maestro, Teko Modise. She acknowledges that had it not been for Ticket Fund, the closest she would have come to being part of the 2010 FIFA World Cup experience would be at a public viewing or a FIFA Fan Fest.
“When I’m old, I can tell people that I was part of this great moment. This is undoubtedly one of the most exciting periods in our country and we are all looking forward to watching the games. I’m grateful for this opportunity because I know that there will be many who would love to go to the stadiums, but can’t because they can’t afford a ticket,” Philani said.
Another school kid, Nomathemba Mbowako from Luyolo Senior Primary in Soweto, is also relishing the moment. “There is no better feeling that can substitute how I feel now. I’m looking forward to the games in my country and thank you very much to the Ticket Fund for making this possible for us," said Mbowako.
Developed from plans announced by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter at the Preliminary Draw in Durban in November 2007, the 2010 FIFA World Cup Ticket Fund was formally unveiled by FIFA and the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa on 14 August 2009, exactly 300 days before the opening game.