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Sports events boost city

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KICK OFF: The opening of the annual SANDF Rugby Week yesterday morning at Diskobolos.

MORE sporting events in the city are crucial to ensure the economic prosperity of Kimberley.

This is according to Northern Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nocci) CEO, Sharon Steyn, who said on yesterday’s opening day of the SAPS and SANDF National Rugby Weeks, being held at Tafel Lager Park and Diskobolos respectively, that these tournament and others like them were major boosts for city businesses.

Steyn said that hosting such events were commercially beneficial for the city as they attracted hundreds of players, along with their friends and family, to Kimberley where they contributed substantially to the local economy.

“These visitors don’t only attend the rugby but will also be eating out, shopping at our malls and frequenting local bars and night clubs,” she said yesterday.

“Guest houses and hotels are booked for the week which is also awesome news for local businesses and our economy.”

In terms of financial injection into the city, Steyn compared the events to the Wildeklawer Super Schools, saying that similar sports festivals had many positive spin-offs for Kimberley.

“These tournaments are not quite on the same scale as the Super Schools but they still draw hundreds of visitors. It would be wonderful for local business if we had something like this on in the city every week.”

In the build-up to the prestigious inter-schools event earlier this year, Steyn was very critical of the Sol Plaatje Municipality and the untidy condition that the city was in.

While she believes there is still plenty of room for improvement, the Nocci CEO commended local government for the progress it has made recently in terms of tidying up the city’s streets.

“As excited as local business is about having these visitors staying in Kimberley, it is still quite sad that these tourists have to see our city looking the way it does.

“The place was far worse when the Wildeklawer tournament took place so I really must give the municipality credit for the effort they have already made to tidy up the city’s streets.

“The city is nowhere near spotless but the municipality has started making an effort and needs to be praised for this.”

A total of 18 teams will be in action at Tafel Lager Park this week with 12 men’s teams and six women’s teams vying for their respective bragging rights as national rugby champions.

“This means we have a total of 498 participants involved in the tournament,” said local organiser Johan Myburgh yesterday afternoon.

“Then, there are also team managers as well as family and support staff, so while this event does not quite see players travelling with a huge out-of-province fanbase, it still brings in a fair number of tourists.

“So far, everything is running smoothly with all teams settled in comfortably and our opening ceremony behind us.”

The manager of the Horseshoe Inn, Deon de Wet, said that business was booming, with the majority of the visitors for the police tournament being guests of their establishments.

“Between the Airport and Horseshoe motels we have 302 guests staying with us for this tournament,” De Wet said. “There are 106 at La ‘d Da Lodge while the rest are staying at Sundowner Lodge and other local guest houses.

“For us, an event like this means feet on the premises which is always good for business.

“Meals are being served as part of the tournament, so this rugby festival has not really impacted on our restaurant, but some of the guests have been supporting the bar.”