Saturday night marked an auspicious occasion in the lives of many first year students at the University of Pretoria (UP). After a long day of registering for courses and getting allocated rooms, these young people gathered in the colours of the university residences for their official induction into campus life.
This ceremony has been an integral part of the university calendar since 2001, but this year the 102-year-old institution is inducting the class of 2010, an iconic year in the history of South Africa with the country hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup™
The University has already played their part in contributing to South Africa's World Cup efforts, with four of the South African national players in the World Cup squad having graduated from UP; amongst them Bongani Khumalo and George Maluleke.
Besides this, UP will be acting as a base for the Argentine World Cup squad. Already this week Argentine coach, Diego Maradona, is in Pretoria, looking at training pitch conditions and accommodation. In addition to this, the university will also play host to over 4000 international fans during the tournament.
“The 2010 World Cup is a major event for the country, and for this University,” said Prof Roelf Visser, Director of Residence Affairs and Accommodation. “We will be accommodating thousands of international fans, as well as the Argentine football team. Not only does this pose a huge challenge, but also creates the highlight of our year.”
Throughout the evening the students clapped and cheered the mention of the World Cup, showing their enthusiasm as the class of 2010.
Jeffery Dingiswayo is a 20-year-old student at UP, originally from the neighbouring country of Lesotho. “I am really chuffed and excited, this is the sort of sports event you only see on TV, and now we are going to have Argentina here on campus!”
“I attended the Confederations Cup last year and really enjoyed it, besides the game in Pretoria I travelled to Bloemfontein for the South Africa vs Spain game, which was an experience and a half.”
Motladi Matatiele, studying education, is excited about being a student during the year of 2010. “This is definitely going to be a new experience, and an incredible year in history. All the people coming over makes this a very exciting time.”
Matatiele knows that the tournament will bring scores of foreign fans to the country, offering South Africa a unique opportunity to bolster its tourism industry, but she is personally excited for the arrival of Argentina. “It is going to be incredible to have Lionel Messi on campus!”
Reandi Henn is also studying education and feels that the World Cup will show the rest of the world what South Africa can achieve. “It is inspiring to be seen as part of the global economy and the global community, the rest of the world will know about us, and we can show them what we have to offer.”
“The whole build up to the World Cup has been an education around football, and we now know it is a big deal, not only because of what it brings, but how it unites us as people.”