THE FRIENDLY city of Port Elizabeth will once again play host to the Soweto Derby in the 2011 Vodacom Challenge having become the traditional home of this eagerly-anticipated fixture over the past few years.
When Orlando Pirates FC and Kaizer Chiefs clash, there is always a huge sense of anticipation and the people of the Eastern Cape will once again come out in their droves to see this classic showdown at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on July 21 at 8.15pm.
This fixture in the Vodacom Challenge has been played in Port Elizabeth since 2007, first at the EPRFU Stadium and then from 2009 onwards at the magnificent new FIFA World Cup venue in the city.
The Vodacom Challenge provides the people of the city with a chance to see world-class football on their doorstep, and for visiting fans it is a chance to visit one of the most historic and beautiful parts of the country.
“We are delighted to have the Vodacom Challenge return to our city for 2011 and look forward to welcoming fans from all over the country to the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on July 21,” says Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture Department spokesperson Malehlohonolo Mlabateki. “The memories of the 2010 FIFA World Cup are still fresh, but now we move into the legacy phase in terms of the use of our brand-new facilities, and to host a match of this caliber at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium is very important for that.
“It is crucial that we continue to use the stadium for its intended purpose and it does not get any bigger than a match between Orlando Pirates FC and Kaizer Chiefs. We have a world-class facility and it is fitting that we should have world-class sporting entertainment for the people of Nelson Mandela Bay too.”
There will be two road shows ahead of the fixture, the first from tournament promoters SAIL on Saturday, July 9 at the Shoprite Centre in New Brighton, starting at 11h00 and running through to 16h00. Fans can win match tickets, branded merchandise and prize packs, as well as enjoy entertainment and music.
There will also be a Vodacom-sponsored road show on Wednesday, July 20 at the Uitenhage Shopping Centre from 10h00 to 16h00, a last chance for fans to join the fun before match day.
Port Elizabeth is a major tourist mecca and has been labeled the ‘water sports capital of Africa’. Visitors would do well to brave the winter weather and enter the sea during July, but that does not mean there are not plenty of other attractions.
For those looking to enjoy the outdoors, there are the a number of wildlife areas around the city, namely Settler’s Park, Van Staden’s Wild Flower Reserve, The Cape Recife Nature Reserve, Maitlands Nature Reserve, The Island Nature Reserve, Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area and Groendal Wilderness Area.
And then there is the Addo Elephant National Park, where you can see Africa’s ‘Big Seven’ – elephants, Cape buffalo, leopard, black rhino, lions, the great white shark and the southern right whale.
There are a number of markets and shopping centers, and the history of the area makes for a fascinating cultural experience.
The Eastern Cape is, of course, home to former South African president Nelson Mandela, as well as such ANC stalwarts as Govan Mbeki, political activist and father of former president Thabo Mbeki and Oliver Tambo, political activist and life-long friend of Nelson Mandela.
Aside from its rich Xhosa heritage, the area has also had a heavy Khoisan, British, Dutch, and German influence down the years.
The stadium that will host the Vodacom Challenge match is a marvel of modern architecture. Its setting is magnificent, overlooking the North End Lake in the heart of the city, and the five-tier arena is a wonderful facility that has other uses outside of the playing pitch, with function rooms, restaurants, a gymnasium, amongst other things.
Tickets for the July 21 encounter can be purchased from all Computicket, Shoprite, Checkers and Checkers Hyper outlets nationwide, as well as Pie City (Uitenhage/Tinarha), KFC, eNjoli (Kwazakhele), Ngqoko Tavern (New Brighton), Monde’s Tavern (Motherwell) and Virgin Mobile (Greenacres Mall).
Fans are urged to get their tickets early to avoid the disappointment of missing out on seeing Orlando Pirates FC and Kaizer Chiefs go head-to-head.
Tickets are priced at R50 (Grand Stand – Upper, Middle & Lower; East Stand – Upper, Middle & Lower; North and South Stands – Upper, Middle & Lower) and R80 (Grand Stand – Premier; East Stand – Premier)