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Last Updated: Friday, 23 February 2007, 10:47 GMT
SA optimism unbowed over World Cup
By Paul Waters
BBC Radio Five Live, South Africa

The South African township of Umlazi, on the outskirts of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, looks lovely as the sun sets behind the rolling hills - wild flowers perfume the air and children play noisily in the streets.

Pioneers football team
The Durban Pioneers hope the World Cup will bring prosperity

But don't be fooled. Crime is high here, and there's widespread poverty and unemployment. However, there is no question that people are optimistic.

There is a new shopping centre, the hospital is due to be spruced up and people say that general infrastructure is improving.

When residents heard that the local football team's ground, King Zwelithini stadium, had been designated as a World Cup training site for 2010, they felt it was a definite sign of a better future to come.

Tourism influx

It seems like everybody in Umlazi expects they'll benefit from the World Cup.

They think there'll be new jobs. They think an influx of tourists will boost their economy. They also foresee a legacy of improved roads and transport, safer streets and more sports facilities.

map

Business students at the Mangosuthu Technikon in Umlazi are busy learning the skills they'll need to grab a slice of the action.

Those who play football even dare to dream they'll take part in the World Cup on the pitch.

One local club, Durban Pioneers, train regularly on a hilltop in the township.

Siyanda Maphumulo is already 22 years old, but really thinks he could make it into Bafana Bafana - the national football team. He's scored 15 goals for Pioneers so far this season. And he did play in a junior international squad.

During the day he's a shelf stacker at a supermarket in Durban. But he says it's only temporary. He practices passionately with the Pioneers most evenings.

He thinks he's destined for higher things, if only talent scouts ever came to smaller clubs.

The Pioneers coach, Sandile Gumede, is more realistic. He's enthusiastic about the World Cup, but worries about what will happen after the final whistle.

"2010 is only a few weeks," he says. "What will happen in 2011? And 2012? Will the politicians be so keen on football then? Will the businesses want to sponsor football clubs then?"

He's not the only sceptic.

Many people are worried the stadia will not be built in time, although Tim Modise, from South Africa's Local Organising Committee, rejects this out of hand.

He's the spokesman for the LOC - the national body charged with preparing the country for the World Cup.

I do worry about the World Cup with these levels of crime. I've been mugged myself many times - it's just not safe."
Devon Poobalan

Mr Modise has been accompanying a Fifa inspection team round Durban this week, and although he says he doesn't know for sure what the Fifa officials are thinking, he says South Africa is rising to the challenge.

"You know - the first time the president of Fifa spoke on the matter he said: The first choice is South Africa. The second choice is South Africa. The third choice is South Africa.

"In fact, we were inspecting the International Convention Centre here in Durban where the 2010 World Cup will take place. The whole plan is to bring all the member countries of Fifa to South Africa to come and conduct the draw here.

"So over 200 football associations from around the world know the World Cup is going to be in South Africa. There's nothing to be concerned about."

Crime concerns

The other very real problem is crime. There are 50 times more murders in South Africa than in Europe. Muggings are common place.

Sandile Gumede
Sandile Gumede is sceptical about the World Cup's legacy

Big hotels warn tourists not to walk on the streets in the evening.

Devon Poobalan is the head concierge of one of the largest hotels in Durban.

He says it's not safe to go walking on the beach: "I do worry about the World Cup with these levels of crime. I've been mugged myself many times - for my cellphone, my wallet - it's just not safe."

The government says it will clamp down on crime.

In this week's budget the Finance Minister, Trevor Manuel, said the budget for policing would rise by 34% over the next three years, to swell police numbers by 190,000.

He's also allocated an extra 8.4bn rand ($1.18bn) for stadium construction, and 9bn for transport to help visitors get to them safely and efficiently.

Will it be enough?

Tim Modise from the Local Organising Committee says yes.

"We are ready for you. We will look after you. We will have fun with you. And we do so with confidence that we will deliver an excellent world event."

To hear more about the highs and lows of the preparations for the 2012 World Cup in South Africa, tune into 5Live all day on the 23rd and Sunday 25th February for our special reports.


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