Port Elizabeth – The newly-built Nelson Mandela Stadium won the hearts of Eastern Cape residents during an open day at the weekend.

The stadium, which will host 2010 FIFA World Cup matches, was showcased to the residents of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and the province at large during an Open Day on Sunday.

An extreme air show and a parade were held as well as a mini soccer match to entertain the thousands of people that attended the event. Popular local artists like Hip-Hop Pantsula (HHP) and Nadine also played their favourite hits.

Municipal spokesperson Kupido Baron said just over 17 000 people attended the event to have a look at the pitch and the various other facilities. “We were very excited to give people an opportunity to explore the facility,” Mr Baron added.

The thrilled soccer fans sang praises of the new stadium saying that it was a world class venue.

Grahamstown resident and soccer fanatic, Loyiso Dyongman said the stadium was huge and impressive. “I have always seen such stadiums in the European leagues on the television, but now we have our own stadium of the same standard.

“Nelson Mandela Stadium will really show that our country is ready for the 2010 soccer world cup,” said Mr Dyongman.

Another soccer fan, Zolani Mbete, who hails from Port Elizabeth, lauded the authorities for their great work to ensure that the stadium was finished on time for the 2010 World Cup.

“Having the stadium ready for the 2010 soccer world cup is a sigh of relief for us. I like the pitch because of its high quality,” Mr Mbete added.

Local Organising Committee (LOC) Chief Executive Officer Danny Jordaan was also impressed with the stadium, saying that it was stunning.

He said there was excellent work done in the building of the stadium. LOC members, who also had a chance to look at the stadium, felt that the stadium was ready for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Other activities expected to take place at the stadium is the match between the British and Irish Lions versus Southern Kings on 16 June.

The much-anticipated Vodacom challenge match between the South African soccer giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates is scheduled to take place on 23 July.

As a precursor to the Open Day celebrations, last week Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Councillors, led by the Deputy Executive Mayor Bicks Ndoni and the Executive Director for 2010 Errol Heynes, took time off from their busy schedules to visit the new Nelson Mandela Bay stadium.

The visit was organised by the Speakers Office to afford councillors the opportunity to experience the facility first hand before everyone else did.

Excited and jubilant councillors could not help but marvel at the facility as they were given a tour of this world class stadium.

Deputy Executive Mayor said he was positive that the stadium would have been ready to be used for the Confederations Cup. “The fact that we are hosting an international match on 16 June confirms that we would have been able to host a successful Confederations Cup.

‘We have also had comments from knowledgeable people like Riaan Oberholzer that the stadium is indeed poised to host a successful match on 16 June, this stadium really gives us something to be proud of,” he said. – BuaNews

AUTHOR: Vuyolwethu Sangotsha
DATED: 8th June 2009