The university’s High Performance Centre (HPC) played host to Diego Maradona, Argentinean national football coach on Tuesday 19 January. The central reason for the visit was to inspect the HPC facilities prior to the hosting of the Argentinean international football side. The delegation will be residing at the HPC for the duration of the Soccer World Cup, with several upgrades having been made to the venue for this reason. This inspection represents one of the final steps in finalising a formal agreement between Tuks and Argentina for the hosting of the soccer team.

Creature comforts made available for the footballers include larger beds as well as flat-screen televisions in rooms, according to Prof Denver Hendricks, Director of Community Development. Hendricks further stated that Maradona’s impression of the facilities has been extremely positive, with the Argentinean describing them as “Perfecto”. Argentina will be hosted at what are arguably the best 2010 facilities in the country. Various improvements have been made in order to meet the criteria required by Argentina.

For training purposes the main rugby field has been replanted with new grass seeds and new floodlights have been installed. Upgrades to the gym, including sauna and massage apparatus, have also been made. According to Rocco Meiring, Marketing Manager at the HPC, the improvements represent a future investment beyond 2010 for TuksSport as a whole.

Prof. Cheryl de la Rey, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the university accompanied Maradona on the tour. She commented that he was an “extremely charming and dynamic” personality. She gave insight on a personal conversation between herself and Maradona on the role of sport in racial integration in South Africa. De la Rey has told Perdeby that Maradona asked her about the role of sport in integration. She replied: “We started off our democracy with a perfect example”, referring to the 1995 Rugby World Cup and the large role this event played in uniting the country. Maradona’s response was that he hoped his involvement in 2010 might contribute to a similar positive effect from the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

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