Thu Dec 08 13:57:01 SAST 2016

This is SA's moment to shine

Donald Gips | 2010-06-03 22:05:49.00 Comments

The Big Read: In six days the World Cup, the crown jewel of international sporting events, will be held for the first time on the African continent.

This truly will be a tournament of "firsts" and those of us lucky enough to be here will see history being made all around us.

But even those people who could not make the journey for a game will be watching, reading and talking about South Africa.

They will carefully follow the triumphs and disappointments on the fields of Bloemfontein, Cape Town and Rustenburg.

They will learn of South Africa's geography, major cities and cultural diversity.

This amount of attention and goodwill could not be purchased or orchestrated - it is South Africa's moment to make the world sit up, take notice and be impressed.

The World Cup is much more than an international sporting event. As the world watches the Cup, they will see the beauty, the energy, the spirit and the opportunity of South Africa.

It is up to the people, the businesses and the government of South Africa to capitalise on this event for the advantage of all South Africans.

This is the chance of a lifetime. The World Cup can be an engine that drives South Africa positively into this new decade and beyond. South Africans need to seize this moment and unite as one to capture this opportunity.

Americans have bought more than 130000 tickets for World Cup matches, more than any nation other than South Africa.

We estimate that between 25000 and 40000 Americans will be here during this time.

Most Americans will see several games, go on a safari, visit the Apartheid Museum or Robben Island, and most importantly, experience the warmth and the diversity of the South African people.

As the US Ambassador, I am very pleased to have so many of my fellow Americans open their hearts and minds to the miracle that is modern South Africa.

As our governments work to deepen and strengthen our relationship, the ordinary Americans who come here will create memories and impressions that will last them the rest of their lives.

Many people have expressed surprise that so many Americans are coming to South Africa for the World Cup. I believe there are two main reasons for this large turnout.

Firstly, Americans are drawn to South Africa because of its historic struggle for democracy.

Americans want to demonstrate their support for the "rainbow nation" as it plays host to the world's greatest sporting event.

Secondly, more than 24 million Americans now play soccer, and almost 80% of those are young people who will stick with the sport as they grow up.

America is a nation of immigrants, many of whom have brought their passion for soccer to our country.

Many "new" Americans will be here blowing their vuvuzelas for the team of their home country as well as the US soccer team.

The US is confident that South Africa will succeed in hosting the Cup and that it will serve as a draw for investors, businesses and visitors to this country - long after the final whistle has blown.

The US will be here to see it happen, and we will be here afterwards as well - as friends, business partners and colleagues who share the same goals for a better Africa

  • Ambassador Gips took up his position as President Barack Obama's personal representative to South Africa in October last year.
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