SAnews.gov.za (Tshwane)

5 December 2012

South Africa: Mbalula Wants Afcon Trophy to Remain in SA

Pretoria — Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula says the nation is hoping that the coveted Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) trophy will remain in the country after the tournament has ended next year.

South Africa will host the continental showpiece - which will kick-off with the opening match between Bafana Bafana and Cape Verde at FNB stadium in Johannesburg on January 19. The final will be played at the same venue on February 10.

"It's going to be a great [start to] the year and we are looking forward to a victorious Bafana Bafana. Starting with Cape Verde, we will finish them off and march to victory. We are unstoppable. It is only the boys who can stop themselves, but as a nation, we are roaring and we want this Afcon trophy to stay here in South Africa, said Mbalula.

He said South Africa needed to show the national team support and buy match tickets.

"There were were some glitches here and there in preparations for this tournament, but as government we are doing everything to ensure that the Afcon is a success," he said.

The winners of the 2013 Afcon tournament will battle European champions, Spain in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil.

Mbalula was speaking ahead of officially handing over monetary and other valuable prizes to the winners of the 2012 SA Sport Awards in Johannesburg on Wednesday. The annual glittering awards ceremony was held in Sandton last month.

The minister said those who did well in the society deserved to be rewarded.

He said the prize giving ceremony was important because "it is also good for the youth to know that they have role models, people who perform for the country and give it their all. This is about inspiring the nation".

The 20-year-old Olympic gold medalist and the 2012 Sport Star of the Year, Chad le Clos who pocketed a whopping R1 million during the sport awards ceremony received his brand new BMW from Mbalula.

With a smile, while receiving the key for his vehicle from the minister, le Clos said: "My whole life has changed ever since the Olympics and thanks for South Africa for giving me the car."

Mbalula also had a surprise present for the Sportswoman of the Year award recipient's, Caster Semenya.

The Limpopo born and Olympic 800 metres silver medalist also received a brand new BMW.

"I never expected this; this is a surprise to me and thanks a lot," said Semenya.

Lophe Mofokeng who participated on the public voting for the SA Sport Star of the Year via sms also won a brand new BMW.

The South African Sport Awards were established in 2004 by the Ministry of Sport and Recreation to recognise and honour excellence in the country's sporting industry.

The Awards seek to celebrate the extra-ordinary accomplishment of South Africa's heroes and heroines whose selfless services is truly indicative of the wealth of talent, dedication, passion, selflessness and patriotism which is in abundance in South Africa's sporting fraternity.

The objectives of the SA Sport Awards are to celebrate sport and recreation; reward sports achievement; stimulate interests in sport and recreation thus contributing towards unearthing talent and promoting development as well as recognising luminaries in sports on and off the field of play.

Mbalula said 2013 would be an exciting year in sport. "We are looking forward to launching the basketball league and the netball professional league ... we are looking forward to making everybody happy by taking all the sporting codes higher and higher," he said.

This year the department ploughed back into the community by introducing the school sport programme and the school sport championship which kicks-off in Tshwane on Monday with 6000 athletes who were competing on the school sport leagues.

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