Thursday, 11 June 2009

Sports day in Cape Town

Today the World Economic Forum in Cape Town was all about sports, well for me at least.

This afternoon I joined delegates on a trip to Greenpoint Stadium that nestles between Table Mountain and the Atlantic ocean.

When we arrived we were met by a barrage of photographers and journalists. I knew we were important but not that important, surely? It turns out I was right because after we collected our hard hats and sat in the auditorium for a briefing on the stadium, we were asked to stand to welcome President Jacob Zuma and various other eminent personalities, including the Secretary General of Fifa. Zuma was there to kick off the one year countdown to the first match of the 2010 World Cup.

The President literally kicked off the countdown, as we all went out onto the pitch (I can claim now that I have stood on a World Cup football pitch). In front of what must have been several thousand construction workers, Jacob Zuma spoke more eloquently and fluently than I had heard him in front of the WEF audience, then as we counted down, kicked a ball into the stands.

I did enjoy the fact that, after signing disclaimer forms and donning hard hats, in the middle of the massive construction site, standing under cranes as high as the sky, the South African national anthem was played and we all, including the President, immediately took our hard hats off and held them to our chest. That must have been the health and safety officials worst nightmare!
Later on that evening, I attended a soiree in honour of the 800 WEF delegates, in the presence of President Zuma and a number of other African Heads of State. Again the whole thrust of the evening was the 2010 World Cup. There is such enthusiasm building up here, it is going to be one HUGE party and I am definitely going to come to Cape Town in 2010 to be a part of it.

I thought I had done enough sport when I finally got back to the hotel at about 11pm, only to find all the hotel staff wearing British Lions shirts over their uniforms, because the Lions had just checked in to the hotel that I am staying at. I can see a group sitting round the pool now and I can hear some gentle rugby songs wafting upwards. I have a feeling that this hotel is in for a lively time over the next few days!

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