South Africa’s No. 1 football fan

first_img15 February 2010 Decorated names that do not need a second mention hold various individual records for the Fifa World Cup. The legendary Pele holds the record for being part of a World Cup winning team: he collected three winner’s medal, in 1958, 1962 and 1970. Diego Maradona has the most World Cup appearances as captain, with a tally of 16 matches. Cameroon’s great striker, Roger Milla, remains the oldest man to have played in a World Cup: when he turned out for his country in 1994, he was 42 years and 39 days old. Thulani Ngcobo, who is on the terraces every time South African Premier Soccer League club Kaizer Chiefs plays, will seek to join these football luminaries in the Guiness Book of Records when Africa hosts its first Fifa World Cup in June and July. The 29-year-old has vowed to break the individual record for watching the most matches in a single tournament after winning a competition held by Fifa partner MTN, which was looking for South Africa’s number one fan.‘One in a lifetime opportunity’ “It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, and I am very confident of succeeding in being the best fan of not only this historic World Cup but also in the world,” said Ngcobo, who will be going to 38 matches during the World Cup as the winner of the competition. Ngcobo said he will be out to better the present world record of 20 games, and gave an insight into his calculated schedule. “I have lined up 38 games that will begin with the opening match when Bafana Bafana play Mexico and end with the final on 11 July.” The South Africa Kaizer Chiefs supporter views the opportunity to break the world record as the second biggest development in his lifetime romance with football. “Nothing can beat the day South Africa won the right to host this World Cup, not even this competition. It was not only a victory for my country but for the whole African continent, and I remember celebrating like there was no tomorrow when we won the 2010 bid. “We are a poor continent, and most of us football fans would have died without attending a World Cup match. However, with it here, we can show off our love for this great game while we also get the opportunity to see the best football talents in the world showcase their skills,” said Ngcobo.2010 benefits ‘already visible’ The Tshwane/Pretoria-based fan points out that the World Cup benefits in his country are already visible. “Our road networks and airports have undergone a major facelift. A lot of job opportunities have been created for our people.” However, his face beams when he talks about the football facilities that have been built in preparation for the international football feast. “We will have enough football pitches for our football matches. Nothing irritates me more than being told that a match has been postponed or shifted to make way for rugby. I specifically remember some time ago, when the Telkom Cup final was moved at the last minute from Ellis Park [in Johanneburg] to Mafikeng because the venue had been taken over by a rugby match. Those days are now gone.” Ngcobo, who claims to watch as many as four matches per week, believes eclipsing the 20-match record would be a stroll in the park. “My sponsors have arranged two matches per day, which is really easy to achieve, given that logistics such as transport and accommodation have also been well planned and are also sponsored.”Rewriting the history books With that taken care of, he intends to enjoy all his matches, and has already picked his favourites. “The opening game will obviously be very emotional for me. I cannot wait to see the spectacular opening ceremony and cheer on Bafana Bafana as they kick off the tournament against Mexico. Like me, they will also re-write the history books in that moment. “The final will be even more special as I will also be celebrating fulfilling this challenge at the magnificent Soccer City Stadium.” Besides, the opening game, Ngcobo highlighted the exciting prospect of watching Brazil, Italy, France, Spain and Cote d’Ivoire in action. “A few years back, I could only dream of seeing players like Lionel Messi, Kaka, Thierry Henry, Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres and Ronaldo kick a soccer ball.” Source: 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa Organising Committeelast_img read more

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South Africa gold panners shine in Poland

first_imgBright Kagiso Malatjie competing in the traditional pan finals. Team SA in celebratory mood during the opening ceremony in Poland. (Images: SA Gold Panning Association) MEDIA CONTACTS • René Reinders  South African Gold Panning Association  +27 13 768 1060 or +27 84 755 7807• Marius Brummer  Pilgrims Rest Business Chamber  +27 82 780 7309 RELATED ARTICLES • Mines, headgear and the mind • Joburg: from mining camp to big city • SA’s junior mining vibrant • Team SA takes Bushmills trophy• Jock to grace SA screens againEmily van RijswijckAlthough the term gold panning evokes centuries-old images of dusty shanty towns and hopeful prospectors, the activity is still very much part of the new millennium – and even practised as a national sport in South Africa.The national team recently participated in the 2011 World Gold Panning Championships in Zlotoryja, Poland, and – although they did not return with prized nuggets – they won over Polish hearts during their stay, says Sibongile Nkosi, spokesperson for culture, sport and recreation in Mpumalanga province.South Africa fielded a squad of 32 members, among them Surprise Thulelo who was crowned junior champion in Italy in 2009. Despite not reaching the podium this year, more than 10 South Africans made it into the finals of the different panning categories, including that for proficient men and women.More than 150 panners from 22 countries – Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, UK, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the US – participated in the 2011 event.MEC for Culture, Sport and Recreation in Mpumalanga Sibongile Manana attended the competition and said the team gave it their all in the different categories.“We are extremely proud of the men and women who represented the country well at the championships.”Hosts in 2012South Africa will host the 2012 World Gold Panning Championships in Pilgrims Rest, as it did in 2005. Before kicking off this year’s event, the South African delegation showcased the country and its many attractions to fellow participants and spectators.A multicultural ensemble from Mpumalanga gave spirited performances of Shoshaloza and Impi, two traditional Zulu songs today strongly associated with sporting events, much to the delight of the 500-strong crowd.The delegation also used the opportunity to entice visitors to the province, which is one of South Africa’s prime tourist destinations.They highlighted popular spots like Pilgrim’s Rest, Blyde River Canyon and Kruger Park among other choice options available to local and overseas visitors.Manana said South Africa was excited about welcoming spectators to the 2012 championships.“Our people are waiting to share their hospitality with all of you. South Africa is ready for you. Wozani!” (isiZulu, meaning “come”).Italy and Sweden will be the host countries in 2013 and 2014 respectively.Competition panning Gold panning is a recreational sport with a strong family-fun component to it. Everybody can participate, from five- to 80-year-olds, says René Reinders, South African Gold Panning Association representative.The South African Gold Panning Association (Sagpa) was formed in 1997, and at the same time joined the World Gold Panning Association. The local organisation aims to promote and maintain the tradition of gold panning in South Africa.Sagpa also feels gold panning has great potential as an all-inclusive heritage activity, which can valuably contribute to nation-building and cross-cultural understanding.Working closely with the Mpumalanga Department of Culture, Sport and Recreation, Sagpa holds the annual South African National Championships, from which a team is selected to participate in international competitions.Reinders says the sport is gaining popularity steadily, with panning associations now represented in almost all nine provinces.“We are trying to build up participant numbers as we go along. It is a heritage activity which stays alive through these competitions and which we would like to continue to see taking place for years to come.”How to panParticipants receive a gold pan and a bucket full of sand in which a specific number of gold nuggets are hidden. The amount of nuggets in each bucket is only known to the judges. Participants enter pools of water and start washing the sand in search of the nuggets.The winner is the participant who finds the most nuggets in the shortest space of time. Panners are also penalised for lost nuggets.“Once participants step into the pool of water, they become very serious, often competing with their own, custom-designed boards which they swear by,” adds Reinders.In international competitions, panning takes place in several categories and also includes the use of various types of pans, such as the traditional klondike pan which was used by prospectors of old, the bateau pan which originates from Eastern Europe or the less-familiar wooden Japanese yurita pan.Pilgrims RestTaciturn Alec “Wheelbarrow” Patterson, the opportunistic prospector and discover of the first gold nugget in Pilgrims Creek in the 1870s, would probably have frowned upon these modern-day panning effortsPatterson was so nicknamed after he arrived at the Mac Mac digs near Sabie in Mpumalanga, at the time the only viable prospecting field in the area, accompanied only by his wheelbarrow in which he pushed his worldly belongings.As he was secretive and reticent, not much is known about the man, but it is believed he became so encumbered after he sold his donkey – because the animal had kicked him.Loner Patterson soon found the crowded Mac Mac site too much for his liking and decided to try his luck elsewhere. He opted for the small, tree-lined Pilgrims Creek, which eventually joins the mighty Blyde River. Here he struck gold.But it was another prospector, William Trafford, who is credited with starting the rush to Pilgrims Rest and for inadvertently naming the village that would spring up as a result.After following Patterson to Pilgrims Creek, he also found gold in the little stream and immediately registered his claim at the Mac Mac office of the Gold Commissioner.He is quoted as saying at the time: “Here a pilgrim can come to rest.”On 22 September 1873 Pilgrims Rest was officially proclaimed a gold field.Gold prospectors there first stayed in tents, but by 1876 most of these were replaced by more permanent structures of zinc and wood. These dwellings can still be seen today, almost intact, making Pilgrims Rest a favourite tourist attraction in Mpumalanga.A visit there is not complete without staying, or at least having a drink, at the rustic Victorian Royal Hotel. Pilgrims Rest also offers a nine-hole golf course, museums, tours and, of course, gold panning excursions.In 1986 the entire village of Pilgrims Rest was declared a national monument, a living tribute to South Africa’s gold-rush days of the 1800 and 1900s.last_img read more

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Brown captures 94.7 Cycle Challenge

first_img21 November 2011Johannesburg’s biggest cycle race, the Momentum 94.7, drew 25 000 riders to the City of Gold on Sunday. The result came down to a bunch sprint of 10 men, with MTN-Qhubeka’s Arran Brown emerging as the winner ahead of teammate Reinardt Janse van Rensburg.It is a race that has been good to Brown in the past. He won it in 2009 and finished as runner-up in 2010.The racing began at a fast pace as the cyclists made their way along the M1 highway, which is normally packed with traffic making its way into the Joburg city centre during the week, but was closed for the road race on Sunday.SplinteredAfter 18 kilometres, with the leading bunch closing in on the King of the Mountains checkpoint, the group splintered into four groups, with 11 riders breaking away at the front just after the King of the Mountains, which was won by Tasol GT rider David Maree, with MTN Qhubeka’s Dennis van Niekerk in second.Sprinters Arran Brown and Tyler Day (Team Bonitas) were the last two men to make it into the leading pack as the race front-runners powered their way through the city centre.Two men expected to challenge for the title, Nolan Hoffman of Tasol GT and Herman Fouche of Cape Town Fish Market, were, however, missing from the break and sent their team-mates to the front to begin the chase.Up front, Team Bonitas riders’ Darren Lill, Johann Rabie, Jason Bakke, Tyler Day and Hanco Kachelhofer, as well as MTN Qhubeka’s Martin Wesemann, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg and Arran Brown were setting the tempo. Also with them, but without the assistance of their teams, were Louis Meintjes (Team Toyota Academy), James Perry (Team Tasol GT) and Ian McLeod (Team Northcliff Cycles).Three-minute leadEventually the chasing bunches merged and that took the sting out of the tail as the breakaway riders built their lead to three minutes with 25 kilometres to go.James Perry attacked twice in the last five kilometres, but his efforts were to no avail as the remaining 10 riders readied themselves for a bunch sprint. Ian McLeod’s chances were blown, though, when he suffered a puncture.SA road race champion Lill set the tempo up the final drag before the left turn to the finish. Martin Wesemann (Team MTN Qhubeka) then took over the charge, with Reinardt Janse van Rensburg on his wheel, followed by Hanco Kachelhofer and 2011 Cape Argus Cycle Tour winner Tyler Day.Picture perfectBrown sat behind Day and was in fourth place as the riders the final right turn around the roundabout. In a picture-perfect finish for Team MTN Qhubeka, Brown and Jane van Rensburg then powered away from their nearest rivals up the incline to the finish.It marked the 32nd race win of the season for the MTN-Qhubeka men’s team.WomenThe women’s race saw four riders go clear of the rest, with Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and Jo van der Winkel (both Team Nashua Toyota), Cherise Taylor (Team USN) and Lise Olivier (Team MTN Qhubeka) maintaininga lead of two minutes over their nearest challengers for the whole race.In the end, it was Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio who got the better of defending champion Cherise Taylor in the sprint to the line, with Van der Winkel taking the final podium spot and Olivier finishing fourth.SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

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