Iraqi Ambassador praises SA pupils for adopting Iraqi team
Learners from Muhammedayeh and Douglas Road primary schools in Wynberg, Cape Town, worked tirelessly through their Easter holidays to prepare a comprehensive Iraqi programme which had the desired effect with the Iraqi Ambassador smiling, clapping and singing along during their cultural showcase.
The event was part of the My 2010 Schools Adventure campaign set up to promote education through sport with schools in each of South Africa's nine provinces, each adopting a country taking part in the FCC this June in South Africa.
Western Cape Sports School in Kuilsrivier, winners of the under 18 boys Western Cape Provincial My 2010 Competition hosted the event as well as a training camp for fellow winners in the under 18 girls, under 14 girls and under 14 boys competitions; Fezeka High School and Lwazi Primary from Guguletu and Phakamisani Primary from Plettenberg Bay respectively.
The four teams joined the Ambassador and guests invited to witness the Iraqi cultural showcase consisting of interactive dances, soccer information about Iraq, the current Asian Cup champions, a cultural learning segment as well as an Iraqi language teaching segment. There were also displays of traditional Iraqi food provided by Iraqi families living in Cape Town.
"My attendance here was very important because this function was dedicated to Iraq and shows the cooperation between the Iraqi people and the South African people," said an elated Ambassador Rasheed Alawsy, adding: "I feel so proud that these children sang the Iraqi National Anthem and the South African Anthem have put in a lot of effort to learn about my culture and customs to share with everybody here."
Ambassador Alawsy who brought along boxes full of chocolate bars for all the children as gifts as well as a good luck gesture to the four local soccer teams said. "I congratulate the children, their teachers and parents on all their hard work researching and showing the beautiful culture and language of my country.
"What I have seen is a wonderful experience that I will report back to Iraq. We are truly looking forward to the Iraqi team arriving in June for the Confederations Cup and being hosted in this hospitable country - South Africa. Our thanks to you all," he added smiling jubilantly.
Guests in attendance included representatives from the Department of Education, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sports, the Department of Sports and Recreation, the Fifa World Cup Organising Committee as well as 2010 provincial government officials and 2010 Cape Town Ambassador Desiree Ellis, former Captain of the SA National Women's Soccer team, Banyana Banyana.
Deputy Director for the Department of Sports and Recreation, Edgar Mogadi, gave an update on the campaign explaining that Phase One would end with the FCC School Cup taking place at the National Finals in Gauteng from May 14-17. "You four teams will be known as Western Cape Iraq and will be expected to reflect Iraq well in the form of arts, culture, dance, poetry and debates during the tournament. The Iraqi Embassy will help you through the Ambassador and this will be a fun-filled event for all the children," he said during his address.
Mogadi added: "As there are eight nations for the FCC the African Union has been adopted by one province as this is an African World Cup. Then on the 18th May Phase Two will start with preparations for the 32 (school) teams that will participate in the 2010 School Cup.
"The 2010 Fifa World Cup being held in South Africa is not just about the professional players but also includes all you pupils learning about the countries where all the 32 teams come from and enjoying their cultures. Currently you are the provincial champions until the national finals so enjoy that and good luck and we'll see you in May," Mogadi concluded.
Fourteen-year-old Mazangwa Petersen of Phakamisani Primary has played soccer since he was nine and remembers when South Africa won the bid to host the 2010 World Cup. "It was a great day. My dream is to become a professional player," said Petersen who also plays for Oriented Birds in Kwanokuthula Township.
Petersen who has been chosen to represent another local team, Eden Soccer Squad in Australia this year, added: "In Africa my favourite player is Teko Modise and in the rest of the world it's Cristiano Ronaldo. It's sometimes hard being a captain but I am proud to be leading the team in the schools national finals and hopefully we will win and also play and win the 2010 Schools Cup as well."
Lindiswa Mali from Lwazi primary says she wants to be as good as her hero Didier Drogba who plays for Chelsea. "When I grow up I want to be like Drogba and impress the fans," said the 12-year-old. While her team-mate, Siphosethu Velamua, also aged 12, added passionately: "My dream is to be a famous football star. I want to play soccer until I'm old."
2010 Fifa World Cup Organising Committee South Africa My 2010 Schools Adventure campaign Project Manager Louis Taylor said that he felt the event was a huge success. "The children, their teachers and coaches obviously worked very hard to make this a splendid event. The Ambassador told me how delighted he was. We are very proud to be involved in driving this fantastic education and sports initiative which also aims to train 10,000 teachers and senior learners in both coaching, sports administration and event management."
Head of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport in the Western Cape Brent Walters, who also oversaw proceedings said: "I believe My 2010 Schools is an excellent programme which fits perfectly with our own of promoting the province and benefiting our children with a lasting legacy beyond 2010. I am very proud to be involved."
2010 OC Venue Manager for Cape Town, Teral Cullen thanked everyone involved in event, informing the Ambassador that his visit "means a lot to the people of the Western Cape". Then announced birthday celebrations for Zakumi, the 2010 Mascot in attendance, stating he was born on Freedom Day. The children sang Happy Birthday for a delighted Zakumi and presented him with a cake.
Cullen said in closing: "Eight years ago when South Africa bid to host the world cup we said, Africa is calling the world. Now in less than 60 days we are calling the rest of the world to come to Africa and visit South Africa." Ke Nako, It is Africa's time!
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