The 2010 Soccer World Cup may very well be coming to Athlone or Philippi. Athlone Stadium may have lost out on the opportunity to host a match, but the venue, along with the fields next to the Police Training College in Philippi, is certainly being considered as a possible training ground for the World Cup.
This was revealed at a public participation meeting held in the Athlone Civic Centre on Thursday, 10 May.
Although the meeting was very poorly attended - less than 15 community members were there - the public has until Wednesday, 23 May to submit their suggestions and opinions in response to the proposal.
... the public has until Wednesday, 23 May to submit their suggestions and opinions in response to the proposal ...
Pieter Cronje, the City of Cape Town's head of communication for the Soccer World Cup, said the process of finding training grounds is not yet cast in stone.
"The host city offers FIFA the option of various grounds. The decision will be made at a later stage," said Cronje.
David Hugo, the city's 2010 technical director, has described Athlone and Philippi as "two prime venues" for training, and even though they may not play their games in the city, teams may choose to do their training here.
Hugo said Athlone and surrounds will also be considered as a venue to host a fan park. Fan parks, to be located around the city, cater for those who can't watch the games at the stadium.
"Most people in the city are going to be watching the games either at home, or at the fan parks. That is where the real party will be," said Hugo.
There are, however, many aspects to be taken into consideration before any decisions are made.
Hugo said Athlone and surrounds will also be considered as a venue to host a fan park... Most people in the city are going to be watching the games either at home, or at the fan parks. That is where the real party will be
Safety is one of them. Aslam Salie, Lansdowne Community Police Forum (CPF) chairperson, said the World Cup organisers shouldn't use a "First World approach to a Third World country".
Salie said each area has a unique set of circumstances, and the only way to ensure a safe and secure fan park is to get the community to take ownership.
"We can bring in all the police we want, even the army, but it still won't be safe if we isolate the participants from the event. We must bring the CPF, schools, neighbourhood watches, churches and mosques to come on board," said Salie.
He reckons that if the city provides incentives to participate, they'll get a better response. "If they (residents) are genuinely involved in the process, they will take ownership," said Salie.
"When that happens, they will have more to lose if something goes wrong," he added.
Nazeem Khan, Silvertown Civic Association chairperson, agrees with Salie.
The only way this could work is if we involve everyone.
"The only way this could work is if we involve everyone. Anything that would uplift the area is positive, but it needs to be inclusive," said Khan.
He did express that safety was a concern, but beyond that, there were many issues in the area, more pressing than 2010. "Service deli?very, dumping, housing... the city is not coming to the party on many of these things. But hosting a fan park, and the stadium being used for training, would bring positive spin-offs like job creation and upgrades. So it would be a fantastic idea to have them here," said Khan.
Before anything is cast in stone, however, members of the public will have the opportunity to give their input and voice their opinions. Anyone with suggestions can submit them via e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.