Hammanskraal — From the moment his school principal invited learners to enter the Afcon 2013 mascot competition, Tumelo Nkoana eagerly seized the opportunity as he had been a budding artist since the age of seven, and thought it was time to show off his drawing skills.
Out of 3 000 primary schools that entered the competition to draw the mascot - which will be the official talisman of the 2013 edition of the Africa Cup of nations (Afcon) - Tumelo's mascot is the one that ultimately stole the hearts of many South Africans, as it won the competition.
The mascot, which has been named Takuma, was announced during the Afcon final draw in Durban in October.
Takuma will be used in future departmental campaigns and will serve as a tool to promote good sportsmanship.
A grade seven pupil at Dikgorwaneng Primary School in Hammanskraal, Tumelo, aged 13, was on Tuesday awarded prizes by the Department of Sport and Recreation for his winning mascot during a ceremony held at the school, which was also attended by the department's Deputy Minister Gert Oosthuizen, Afcon LOC CEO Alec Moemi and SAFA President Kirsten Nematandani, amongst others.
Tumelo has won football and netball equipment for his school, a school uniform voucher worth R1 000 as well an an art set for him to continue drawing. His grandparents were also given grocery vouchers and VIP tickets for the opening Afcon match in January.
A confident but shy Tumelo told SAnews that he was not surprised he won the competition as he had faith in his drawing ability.
"I know I was going to win since I've been drawing since the age of seven. Now that I've won this art set, it will help me improve my drawing skills. I will also enter more competitions in the future," said an excited Tumelo.
His grandmother, Jane Nkoane, 63, said at the time of the competition, she was not aware what was happening until she was told that Tumelo's mascot had won.
"We are so excited by his achievement. We've been taking care of him since his mother passed away in 2006. Now that we can see how good he is, we will support him and when he has finished matric, we will enrol him at an art school," said an elated Nkoana.
Oosthuizen said the day marked another milestone following the successful hosting of the 2010 World Cup.
South Africa was only due to host Afcon in 2017 but due to circumstances, the country was asked to host the tournament in 2013 because it had the knowledge and expertise to do so.
"This is another legacy, another building block that we will use going forward in this country," Osthuizen said, noting that South Africa had a great future ahead.
He announced that the runner-up mascot, Shingo, would be used during the first ever National Schools Sport Championships to be held in the next two weeks at the University of Pretoria and the Showgrounds, where 5 000 school athletes will be taking part.
Afcon 2013 LOC board chairman, Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana, said that Afcon 2013 must be an event to celebrate the success of 2010, which has yielded much legacy, in terms of finance, administration skills and infrastructure.
"Many of us didn't know the school and the young boy. Many of us often doubt the capability of people living in rural areas... All of us are behind this tournament and we are going to make sure that it becomes a success," said Nonkonyana.
He announced that President Jacob Zuma will be the patron of the tournament.