Minister Meyer Welcomes Eight Nations under-20 Challenge Teams
Media Statement by Dr Ivan Meyer, Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport
On behalf of the Western Cape Government and the citizens of this beautiful province, I wish to welcome the eight participating nations to the Western Cape. In the shadow of our iconic Table Mountain you will over the next ten days experience Western Cape hospitality and hopefully come to understand why those who visited our shores during the 2010 FIFA World Cup speak so glowingly about their Cape Town and Western Cape experience.
The Western Cape Government believes in the philosophy of Better Together. The Eight Nations under-20 Challenge tournament reflects this philosophy as the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape Government and SAFA Cape Town have joined forces to deliver this major football event. The individual resources at our disposal are being brought together to stage a tournament that will mirror the successful staging of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Now that the teams have arrived, we look forward to the all-important ingredient of quality football. We believe that we will not be disappointed.
While it is important that we position Cape Town as a soccer-friendly city and a place where football is played, this tournament, however, is also about our support for football development and our continent, Africa. The opening match on 25 May 2012 between South Africa and Argentina coincides with Africa's celebration of Africa Day. As the first whistle signals the kick-off to the Eight Nations under-20 Challenge tournament, South Africa will join the continent in celebrating Africa Day, a day to reflect on the proud achievements of the African continent and its infinite possibilities.
Africa is also becoming increasingly a major trading partner. Seven out of ten of the fastest growing economies in the world are on the African continent. The event is therefore another platform for the Western Cape to promote itself as a sport and recreation mecca and develop linkages with tourism and other industries.
The Western Cape Government believes in diversity and excellence. This tournament not only creates an opportunity for talent to be showcased, it also allows for football excellence to be displayed and for our local football associations to benefit from the capacity-building initiatives an event of this nature creates. Given the location of the training and match venues which are located across the city, teams will also experience the diversity of our communities on the one hand while on the other hand communities will have the prospect of having a future football star training in their backyard. The Western Cape has a proud track record of delivering quality, well-organised events and I have no doubt we will do so again.
As mentioned earlier, the staging of the 2012 Eight Nations under-20 Challenge tournament coincides with the continent's celebration of African Day. The event therefore gives us an ideal platform to build bridges between the people of the Western Cape and the rest of Africa. It also gives us the opportunity to foster sound relationships between communities across our city. I am therefore extremely happy that SAFA Cape Town has made every effort to makes this event as inclusive as possible. Football builds bridges. Football builds social inclusion. I urge teams to use this opportunity to reach out to the communities where you will be based, celebrate our shared love for football and build and strengthen our linkages to each other and Africa.
The Western Cape Government encourages the citizens of our province to support this event. Your support will send a strong message that the Western Cape supports football and is inextricably linked to Africa. I urge you to purchase your tickets, fill the stadiums and witness future football stars display their amazing talent. May the teams flourish under the leadership and management of their captains, coaches and team management. I have no doubt that the competition will be tough, but as a South African, I must single out our team, the South African Team, the Amajitas, and wish them well. The Western Cape will be rallying behind you.
I also encourage visiting teams and supporters to use the opportunity to explore the beauty of the Western Cape. Visit Table Mountain, explore historical Robben Island, learn about our common history and destiny through our museums and stand in awe at the beauty of our natural Winelands and ruggedness of the West Coast.
The Western Cape Government wishes the organisers well and re-affirms its support for the Eight Nations under 20 Challenge.