- Pitso Mosimane credits Nelson Mandela's release from prison as a key factor in the success of South African sport
- He said that without Mandela's release the 2010 Soccer World Cup would not have been hosted in South Africa
- Many other sporting codes and athletes have benefited from that special day in February 1990
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane revealed that Nelson Mandela's release from prison not only benefited the country but also South African sports.
When Mandela was released and the sanctions fell away it allowed for other countries to play against South Africa. It enabled the 1995 Rugby World cup to be hosted in South Africa as well as the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
Mosimane was speaking at the 30th anniversary of Mandela's release.
“I am happy that we are back in international football and that’s why we hosted the World Cup in 2010 here in SA,” he said.
“We would not have hosted the World Cup because we were under sanctions and we were banned. Freedom has brought all the goodies — look at the nice football stadiums that we have across the country.
“There have been lots of benefits. Under apartheid, football people said to me that we will never come to your country. Now we have people like Caster Semenya, Percy Tau, Akani Simbine, Wayde van Niekerk and many others who are showcasing their stuff on the international stage. We are benefiting.”
When Mandela was released in 1990, Mosimane was playing football in Greece.
“I remember very well when it happened — I was in Greece where I was playing football.
“I could not believe that it was going to happen because when you were in the apartheid days you did not believe all these things. I said to myself that this is not going to happen — there will be stories tomorrow that something has happened.
“I asked to train earlier because Mandela coming out was a big thing for me. Everybody, including my teammates, were talking to me about it and suddenly I was the big guy with everybody wanting to talk to me.”
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