South Africa scores Soccerex

Soccerex 2008 will take place at the
Sandon Convention Centre located in the
heart of the Gauteng province’s economic
hub.
(Image: Sandton Central)

Tamara O’Reilly

The imminent hosting of the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa has opened many doors for South Africa, one of them being Soccerex, the biggest football-focused exhibition in the world.

The three-day event will be held at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, from 24 November – the second consecutive year of the Gauteng Department of Sports Recreation Arts and Culture’s three-year host deal.

The inaugural South African leg of the exhibition held around the same time last year drew as many, if not more, visitors than expected. With over 4 000 delegates and 300 exhibitors from over 95 countries participating in this year’s Soccerex, it’s expected to be no different.

“The magnitude of this year’s three-day Soccerex conference has astonished organisers who have recorded mountains of applications from international and local exhibitors who will fill the Sandton Convention Centre to capacity to display their wares,” says Barbara Creecy, MEC for Sports, Recreation Arts and Culture. “This year’s event will be the biggest and best yet with the entire convention centre booked out.”

The Sandton Convention Centre is based in Johannesburg’s business hub. Several major events have been hosted at the centre as its convenient location offers access to over 5 000 surrounding hotel rooms as well as top shopping locations.

Soccerex, launched at Old Trafford in 1997, has evolved into a four-day event that attracts an assortment of football industry players, from fans to football-related businesses. Prior to being hosted by South Africa, Dubai was the home of Soccerex for six years, and in 2006 business deals worth over $1.8-billion were signed among attendees.

Provincial economic boost

As small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) play a major role in the development of the Gauteng economy, the subsidised exhibition space and networking platform for such businesses has been doubled from last years 15.

“Besides offering numerous opportunities for local companies to partner and do business with their international counterparts, we estimate that the hosting of Soccerex over three years would indirectly inject more than R5-billion ($586-million) into the Gauteng economy and would contribute massively to job creations,” says Creecy.

“While the economic impact assessment to quantify the return on investment for the province from Soccerex 2007 is still in progress, we can report that Soccerex 2007 exceeded our expectations with increased direct spending by visitors estimated to have boosted the provincial economy by at least R150-million ($10-million)”.

Highlights

This year, Soccerex announced the launch of its SMS competition which will allow the two winners to participate in the Soccerex All Star Charity Football match which takes place as a precursor to the main exhibition. The match will feature soccer legends – the likes of former Fifa Player of the Year, Liberian George Weah, Liverpool and England legend John Barnes and Leeds and South Africa’s own soccer hero Lucas Radebe.

Proceeds arising from the competition will go toward Unicef South Africa and Diambars, a Senegalese-based non-profit organisation that combines football with educational and physical development aimed at school children.

Also on the cards is the second instalment of the five-a-side tournament which sees more the 100 community-based clubs from across the province in action. This tournament develops young talent amongst players and encourages interest in the sport among youth.

Social responsibility

Adding to Soccerex’s focus on social responsibility and community upliftment, partners of the exhibition have announced the establishment of a multi purpose sports facility in Soweto, which is scheduled for completion for next year Soccerex.

Do you have any comments or queries about this article? Email Tamara O’Reilly on tamarao@mediaclubsouthafrica.com.

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