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Schools festival to be bigger, better

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The 10th edition of the event promises to be bigger and better than ever, with more teams, more players and more fans set to result in more action and more money coming into the city.

LOCAL businesses are gearing up for a busy weekend as the prestigious Wildeklawer Super Schools Festival returns to Kimberley.

The 10th edition of the event promises to be bigger and better than ever, with more teams, more players and more fans set to result in more action and more money coming into the city.

With 20 schools sending their first XV rugby sides, as well as squads in the various age groups, together with more than a dozen netball teams, organisers are expecting in excess of 3 000 participants, along with their families and friends, to converge on the city for the weekend.

In previous years, the festival has generated an estimated R50 million injection for the local economy from the roughly 25 000 spectators expected.

The CEO of the Northern Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nocci), Sharon Steyn, said that local businesses were bracing for the expected influx of customers, with the “off-field” activities set to provide plenty of financial rewards for the city, particularly in the tourism and hospitality industries.

“An event of this magnitude is extremely beneficial for the city’s economy as it fills guest houses, hotels and local restaurants,” Steyn explained.

“Other businesses, including retail outlets and petrol stations, also stand to gain as the visitors will be shopping and travelling during their stay.

“Businesses and guest houses have been preparing and making sure that they have enough stock, food and accommodation for the long weekend.”

Steyn further described the festival as a tremendous opportunity for the city to gain exposure and encouraged residents to go the extra mile to ensure that tourists are made to feel welcome and left eager to return for future visits.

“I believe that an event like this is an honour for Kimberley and that local businesses should go the extra mile to make the visitors feel welcome so that they can leave Kimberley on a positive note.

“As the capital of the Northern Cape, Kimberley needs this type of event to boost tourism In the city.”

“Nocci welcomes this type of initiative and would like to congratulate Wilderklawer and all involved for the work they are doing.

“Let us all stand together and support our local schools and show them how proud we are to be hosting this event in Kimberley.”

Pat Lancaster, from Five Acres Guesthouse in El Toro Park, said that they were looking forward to a very busy weekend with every room occupied with guests for the festival.

“We have already been fully booked for a year and finding any accommodation in Kimberley this weekend might be tricky,” she said. “We had Oakdale staying with us in 2017 and they decided to pay their deposit and book out our guest house in advance for this year’s festival.

“The Super Schools is marvellous for the local economy and we are really looking forward to the arrival of our guests.”

With this weekend’s schools festival expected to draw visitors from across the country, the MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Mac Jack, welcomed all participants, teachers, coaches and parents to the city for what promises to be a sporting extravaganza.

“Kimberley and the Northern Cape are extremely excited to host this prestigious event once again,” said the MEC as he praised organisers for the inclusivity of the event, with development among the festival’s focal points.

“One of the notable elements of this tournament is the participation of schools across the broad segment of our Province and communities, especially the lesser developing sporting schools,” Jack said.

“Sport is the greatest unifying force across the globe and is so much more than just teams competing against one another.

“Bonds are built, bridges are built. Friendships are formed that transcends across social lines and the broader community.”

Jack added that such events were important to the local economy as they helped promote the city as a tourist destination.

“We call on parents and other visitors to experience one or more of our tourist attractions such as the Big Hole, McGregor Museum, Sol Plaatje Museum, the William Humphreys Art Gallery and the vibey Galeshewe Activity Route for a memorable 2018 Wildeklawer event,” Jack added.

While Premier Sylvia Lucas will not be able to attend this weekend’s event, she did, however, yesterday pledge provincial government’s support for the festival, saying that the event had the potential to create world-class athletes that could represent the country with honour.

“We commit to working harder with Wildeklawer in developing disadvantaged schools and their learners to enable them to compete on an equal footing with the rest of their counterparts and peers,” said Lucas.

“We wish everyone well in the tournament and we are confident that, with the commitment from government and the private sector and sporting fraternity, this tournament will grow from strength to strength.”

Lucas will be supporting the tournament in spirit as she will be leaving on an outbound mission to Namibia on official engagements as part of the twinning agreement that the Province shares with the !Karas Region in Namibia.