The people of South Africa were the “true stars” of the World Cup, after they united to prove that South Africa was capable of hosting a world class event.
President Jacob Zuma was full of praise for his citizens when he addressed the media in Sandton on Monday, saying they had proved the doomsayers who had been warning football fans to avoid South Africa wrong.
The world had been warned to expect high levels of crime, unfinished stadia and a lack of accommodation but what football fans found when they came to South Africa was vastly different.
“They came and discovered that we are a winning nation of very humble, hospitable people. They learned too that we are very efficient organisers and planners.
“We did it. We did it well. We did it successfully but we did not do it alone. We did it with Africa and with the support of the world,” Zuma said.
While the President had words of appreciation for everyone who contributed to the World Cup, he singled out security officials for “proving to the world that we mean business when it comes to maintaining law and order”.
He described South Africans as the true stars of the tournament.
“There are certain things that you cannot buy or create. Key amongst these for us is humanity, friendliness and warmth of the South African people,” Zuma said.
The President commended South Africans for making the World Cup a powerful nation building tool saying he had been inspired by the explosion of national pride during the tournament.
Zuma also thanked international fans who he said were real champions of the tournament because of the energy and commitment they had shown in supporting their nation teams and filling the stadia.
“This has been the start of a lifelong friendship. We invite all our visitors to return soon to explore South Africa further. This is your home,” he said.
It was a day of thank yous, as the President went on to express his gratitude to the players and coaches of all the 32 teams; world leaders who had graced the tournament; musicians and international media.
But Zuma’s “deepest gratitude” was reserved for former President Nelson Mandela for his leadership and vision.
“He laid the foundation that we are building on today. South Africans have given him the best 92nd birthday ever in the manner in which they hosted this tournament,” he added.
Government had learnt important lessons from the World Cup, including project expertise management, expertise which will be put to use in improving the quality of lives of South Africans, he added.
Zuma urged South Africans not to pack away their flags or the green and gold because national duty still called.
“We now turn our focus to the fortunes of the nation’s Springbok Rugby team in the Tri-Nations series…We call upon South Africans from Soweto to Springbok to join the large number of international visitors who will again be in our country for the home matches,” Zuma added.
As to what lay ahead for the country, Zuma said it was “not a bad thing” for the country’s eyes to be on the 2020 Olympics Games given that the South Africa had shown it was capable of hosting world class events.
WELL DONE SOUTH AFRICA