With 300 days until the start of the biggest sporting showpiece in the world – the 2010 FIFA World Cup - Local Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordaan knows that South Africa cannot rest...
"It is important to record this milestone as a significant one in our country’s history, but for those involved in organising the tournament, it is just another marker along the route to ensuring the World Cup is a success.
"While the Confederations Cup served as a reminder of the successes we can achieve, the 300th-day countdown serves as a warning of the work that still lies ahead of the tournament and other major events on our calendar.
"On December 4, the eyes of the world will once again turn to South Africa and more specifically Cape Town when we host the World Cup draw. The 32 teams who will have qualified will be drawn into their respective groups for the first round.
"The World Cup is not just about the games on the field, but also about leaving a lasting legacy in South Africa and giving back to ordinary citizens. On Friday we launch the Ticket Fund, a project which allows the organisers of the World Cup to give back to South Africans. This project, a first of its kind at World Cups, will provide 120,000 residents of this country who otherwise would not have had the opportunity with a chance to attend matches during the tournament.
"The tickets, which have been set aside for every match, will be given on a complimentary basis to individuals who have distinguished themselves in social and development initiatives linked to the World Cup.
Although we face challenges regarding infrastructure and transport, we will continue to confront them with the same verve we have employed in the past. Already those stadiums which were not used during the Confederations Cup are all over 80 percent complete. Construction on the precincts surrounding these stadiums is either in the most advanced of planning stages, or already under construction. We are confident that the host cities will hand them over on time.
"No World Cup could ever be a success without the valued support of volunteers. Already we have received more than 36,000 volunteer applications from people in over 130 different countries and we are confident we will have the best possible team on hand to ensure success. Our neighbours in Africa have answered our call and people from Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Kenya and many other states have applied to volunteer in 2010.
"But it is not only in the organisation of football that our confidence has grown. During the Confederations Cup, Bafana Bafana proved that they can compete with the best teams in the world. Our footballers have made us proud and we are confident they will continue to do so come 2010.
"Their performance in turn will be in the minds of those teams who still have to qualify as the next stage of World Cup qualifiers kick off in September and teams from Europe, Asia, the Americas and Africa take one step closer to South Africa 2010.
"On the media front, the International Broadcast Centre, located at the Nasrec Exhibition Centre next to Soccer City, will become operational on June 1 next year. The World Cup will be broadcast in more than 200 countries and territories and will be seen by an estimated cumulative television audience of 26-billion people. In addition, at least 15,000 media members will cover the event from South Africa.
"As we continue the countdown to June 11, we call on all South Africans to continue to embrace the opportunities which the World Cup will present. We call on you to continue helping us prepare for the tournament and to continue helping us to ensure that it is a success."