With less than a year to go to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, soccer fans the world over got a taste of things to come when South Africa hosted the FIFA Confederations Cup in June.
Although there were some concerns about the poor attendances at matches that did not feature South Africa, the tournament was an unqualified success with South Africa showing that it was capable of hosting the world’s biggest sporting spectacle.
I was fortunate enough to get first hand experience of the Confederations Cup when I joined a group of Namibians who won tickets in an FNB World Cup campaign competition on a trip to Rustenburg for the match between Spain and New Zealand.
Although the stadium was only half full, the atmosphere was electric as the mostly South African fans rallied behind the teams with their infectious dancing, singing and of course, their deafening vuvuzelas. The organisation – from the transport providers and access to and from the stadium, to the security and the state-of-the-art media centre – was excellent, while the facilities next to the field - where photographers could relay their photos instantly via wireless internet – was also out of this world.
The world’s top ranked team, Spain, came to the party with a fantastic 5-0 victory, with Fernando Torres (on the cover) scoring a brilliant hattrick.
This was just the trial run and obviously next year’s event will be much bigger, but what was striking was the willingness of all South Africans encountered to be of service and to make the Confederations Cup an unforgettable experience. It certainly was, and I have no doubt that the 2010 FIFA World Cup will be a magnificent spectacle.
Although Namibia’s Brave Warriors will not be part of that spectacle, they are making great strides under the leadership of coach Tom Saintfiet and last month stunned the DR Congo with a fantastic 4-0 victory in Windhoek. It was Namibia’s biggest victory in nine years and certainly gave the 8 000-odd fan in attendance something to cheer about. The victory will help improve Namibia’s world ranking and efforts are now being made to bring stronger teams like the Ivory Coast to Namibia.
The MTC Namibia Premier League finally came to an end last month as African Stars won their first league title since Namibia’s independence in 1990. It was an absorbing league campaign with up to five teams still in the running in the latter stages, but Stars’ consistency eventually saw them claiming the title in front of about 4 000 ecstatic fans on 17 June.
They were by far the best-supported team in the league and their fans played a big role in their success, as they regularly drew more than 3 000 fans to their league matches. The league, in general, was well run, with few hiccups and lengthy delays as in past seasons and if the NPL can build on this, a fully-fledged professional league could become a reality soon.
In the July issue of Namibia Sport we also report on women’s soccer, with Namibia’s Brave Gladiators losing 3-1 to South Africa’s Banyana Banyana, while Okahandja Beauties won the Khomas Women’s League title for the third year in a row.
In rugby, we report on the Springboks’ historic visit to Namibia to take on a Namibian Invitation XV, as well as Namibia’s progress in the African qualifying campaign for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
With the MTC NPL campaign now over, we invite you to enter the MTC Player of the Season competition to stand a chance of winning some great prizes from MTC.
And remember to catch daily news reports and sport results on our website at www.namibiasport.com.na