Rustenburg ready for 2010 kick-off

Rustenburg may be hosting only six 2010 World Cup matches, but the excitement on the ground could pass for that in a city preparing to stage the final.

Rustenburg has a population of about 400 000 and is centrally located in North West province.

The city is set to host five first-round matches and one second-round match, but this has not dampened the mood. While most cities stood accused early this year of doing little to market the Confederations Cup, Rustenburg was a hive of activity. Roads leading to the North West capital were decorated with the flags of the eight teams that took part in the Festival of Champions.

The Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace Stadium, upgraded to a world-class facility, welcomed some of the best names in the sport, such as Fernando Torres, Xabi Alonso, Mohamed Aboutrika, United States captain Landon Donovan and Iker Casillas.

The Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace is named after the Bafokeng people who live in the area. The stadium, which has a capacity of 44 000, boasts new electronic scoreboards, floodlights and a new public address system. It is a multipurpose venue that includes an athletics track. It underwent minor upgrades to bring it up to Fifa standards.

Rustenburg 2010 coordinator Nketu Matima spoke passionately about the improved facility.

“We are ready for the World Cup now that work on our magnificent stadium has been completed,” he said. “This is a unique stadium, in that it is located in the village among people, which should interest our visitors as they get to interact with our people.”

Matima said that work to improve transport was on course. “We learned a lot from hosting the Confederations Cup. I am happy to report that the road infrastructure [will] be complete by February. Rustenburg also intends to acquire more buses, so that we [will] improve our park-and-ride system. We don’t want fans failing to get transport, especially after matches.”

Rustenburg successfully hosted four Confederations Cup matches, including the exciting battle for third place in which Bafana Bafana lost 3-2 to European champions Spain. It is in the light of this experience that the city seeks to improve its services before 2010.

Matima said contingency plans were in place to meet the demand for accommodation. “We are working closely with outlying areas such as Magalies and Hartbeespoort to ensure that there are enough rooms for fans. The response from our neighbours has been fantastic so far and I do not foresee any shortage of rooms.”

Although no major security concerns were reported during the Confederations Cup, Matima said security would be beefed up during the World Cup.

Besides the football fest that will unfold in the province, North West has a lot to offer fans who take time to visit Rustenburg and its surrounding areas. Among the attractions is the opportunity to view the Big Five.

The city is 30km from Sun City, which has a variety of activities, such as hot-air balloon rides, the Valley of Waves and a 25ha jungle to entertain those not lucky enough to get World Cup tickets.

However, Rustenburg has created a huge fan park for fans who can’t get into the stadium.

“We have reserved Fields College, which has a capacity of 20000, to cater for football lovers to enjoy the game on the big screens that will be set up there,” said Matima.

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Lucky Sindane
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