It hit me that since 94 South Africa has over-achieved when it comes to the major tournaments it has hosted of international significance. They have all been spectacular success so this bodes well for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. This amazing road began in 95 when the country hosted the IRB Rugby World Cup and Joel Stransky wrote his name into the history books when he clinched the winner in the final with a drop-goal.
However it was Nelson Mandela who stole the show when he presented the finalists with their medals wearing Francois Pienaar’s number 6 rugby jersey and united the whole country with that wonderful gesture.
This event has actually inspired a big Hollywood movie which is currently in production and is being directed by Clint Eastwood with Morgan Freeman playing Mandela. Just a year after that South Africa hosted the 96 Africa Cup of Nations which saw the fledgling soccer nation catapulting itself into the football stratosphere when it went all the way and won the tournament.
The euphoria around this sensational achievement gave the Bafana Bafana team the confidence to establish itself as the new power in African football by reaching the next finals in Burkina Faso, despite losing in the final and qualifying for the 1998 World Cup Finals in France for the first time.
The next milestone was the country’s successful hosting of the All Africa Games. One of the legacies of this tournament is the Athletes Village next to Alexandra Township that was donated to locals after the tournament which you cannot miss when you drive along the N3 highway.
Then comes the ICC Cricket World Cup which was also a big success despite the Proteas not winning the tournament. Continuing the cricket theme South Africa hosted the spectacular ICC 20-20 Cricket World Cup which was the first tournament of this format of the game and which was a resounding success.
Now we are currently hosting the Indian Premier League which is nearing its climax with the final scheduled for this coming weekend. This tournament has been stunning with the IPL showing a flair for branding and eventing never before witnessed in these parts. In just a months time the country will host the FIFA Confederations Cup which is the dress rehearsal for the 2010 World Cup.
I have no doubt that we will also demonstrate our uniquely touch to this tournament. This will be immediately followed by the much anticipated British and Irish Lions Rugby Tour to South Africa. After that will come the big one – the 2010 FIFA World Cup. This just confirms the appropriateness of the slogan for brand South Africa which simply says “South Africa – It’s possible”.