5 October 2009
Fans attending the four games that will be played at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane during the 2010 Fifa World Cup will do so under African skies – warm sun by day, glittering stars by night.
The 45 000-seater stadium, which has been built to reflect the landscape of South Africa’s Limpopo province, is more modest than some of its big city rivals, but will certainly leave World Cup vistors in no doubts as to where they are.
The four corners are designed to resemble the province’s signature baobab trees, while the coloured chairs paint a picture of rolling mountains and a warm African sun. A 172-metre roof covers the eastern stand, while the rest of the spectators will be able to stare up at the big African sky.
“The stadium is now largely complete – the pitch has been laid, and the last of the chairs are being put in place,” says Polokwane’s 2010 director, Ndavhe Ramakuela. “All that remains now are some final touches, and then we are ready to open.”
World Cup wildlife
The stadium, built on the outskirts of Polokwane, is just two kilometres from a game reserve, meaning that spotting the odd giraffe or zebra on the way to a World Cup match is not some far-fetched African fantasy.
“Polokwane is a small, intimate city, and people visiting us for next year’s Fifa World Cup can be guaranteed a warm, African welcome,” says Ramakuela. “It’s the kind of place where you can breathe out and enjoy a laid-back atmosphere in a quiet, natural environment.”
But that is not to say that the usually quiet Polokwane, which means “place of safety” in northern Sotho, will not be a place of festivity in 2010.
“Everything will be within walking distance,” says Ramakuela. “Fans will be free to walk the kilometre or so from the city centre to the Fan Fest at the local cricket club, which is also within walking distance of the stadium. Three of our four matches are in the afternoon, so the celebrations will be an all-day, all-night affair.”
Although hosting an event the size of a football World Cup is a big deal for this small city, Polokwane is no stranger to welcoming crowds.
Zion City Moria, the headquarters of the Zion Christian Church, the largest African Initiated Church in southern Africa, is just 40 kilometres from Polokwane. Every year at Easter, millions of members of this church make an annual pilgrimage to Limpopo province.
The thousands of football fans who will descend on the city from around the world next year are sure to enjoy the tranquility. Until kick-off time, of course!