Lessons from the success of 2010 World Cup

A man raises a poster of former South African President Nelson Mandela during the opening ceremony of the 2010 World Cup at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg June 11, 2010. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

Today South Africa will be celebrating 10 years since the successful hosting of the Soccer World Cup Showpiece. The resounding success of the Soccer World Cup will be remembered as one on the biggest success and a good story to tell since after the dawn of our democracy in 1994.

In the spirit of African Unity our Soccer World Cup was not only for South Africa but we were hosting this biggest sporting festivities for the entire Continent of Africa. We celebrating the 10th anniversary amid the somber mood when our Continent and the entire World is engulfed by the pandemic of the Coronavirus. More than 408 000 people have lost their lives and almost 1.7 million people had been infected by this deadly virus.

The virus as did the Soccer World Cup presented serious challenges as to whether as  South Africa and particularly the African Continent are we ready to put all the necessary and required infrastructure projects to deal with the pandemic. South Africa was able and amazingly at the rapid speed to ensure that all the infrastructure projects required as the prerequisite to host  by the soccer governing FIFA is in place. 

These ranges from refurbishment of the existing stadiums to the building of new soccer stadiums including the iconic Soccer City in Nasrec. Coupled to this was the building of road infrastructure project in the country and in particular Gauteng under the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Plan which gave birth to the infamously  Gauteng eToll project.

As we celebrating the 10th anniversary of Soccer World Cup we are confronted by the new challenges of building and refurbishing the new health infrastructure to deal with the wave of infections because of the Covid-19. The problem with South Africa is that we don’t learn from the previous exercise and success stories. We are currently scrambling and in uncoordinated fashion as if there’s no benchmarks or the dashboards to refer to with regard to the implementation of  massive infrastructure projects is concern. 

Compounding the situation is the issue of the reopening of schools after lockdown and ensure that schools infrastructure is geared  to mitigate the spread of the pandemic. Most of our school still suffer from historical infrastructure backlogs in as far as the water and sanitation is concern. This aspect will make it difficult for the students to stay safe from the Coronavirus. 

It’s about time that as the country we used these two events one being celebrating the 2010 Soccer World Cup success by emulating all the things we put in place by then in ensuring its success. The Soccer Local organising committee was able to bring together Soccer federation, business community, government, civil society including trade unions. On the other hand ensuring that  the Covid 19 National Command Council is constituted also by Government, Business, Trade Unions, Civil, Society organisation and the NGO’s.  This will ensure that everybody is on board in engaging and agreeing with all the measures and regulations to defeat the demon of the Covid 19. Consensus and compromises should be the cornerstone that informs all stakeholders in dealing and confronting the pandemic. 

This we should do by benchmarking on all the things we put in place to succeed in hosting one of the FIFA’s most profitable Soccer World Cup whilst on one hand ensuring that we build and refurbish the necessary health infrastructure as per the World Health Organisation standards. 

Coronavirus presents a  biggest opportunity to our government to once and for all deal with all our infrastructure problems amongst others ranges from roads, electricity, housing to health and education infrastructure. Let us this opportunity not go to waste like we did with the successful hosting of Soccer World Cup in as far as the massive infrastructure rollout is concern.