Luvuyo Bangazi: Let’s look at the big picture, Nelson Mandela Bay

Accountability and transparency are non-negotiables in my world, whether you are in government, sport or the business of sport.

I am also convinced context is key, as the right questions in the wrong context will only yield disaster.

If I asked you, the reader, if you would be happy to spend R600 000 for a pasta party, your answer would be an emphatic no.

If I asked you, would you be willing to spend R600 000 for a welcoming event for 4 500 visitors streamed across the globe to millions of viewers and with your guests leaving behind nearly R300-million of their own money? The answer is obvious.

The difference here is context provided. How is the figure of R300-million spend arrived at?

Take 4 500 athletes, add 15 750 supporting guests over 10 days, with an average spend of R1 500 a day and you will have R303-million.

These facts, based on previous host city statistics, were always made available to anyone who asked.

How often have you heard the hospitality industry crying about the lack of visitors or the fact that people seem to use us as a stopover en route to somewhere else?

How many establishments must close down because they cannot sustain themselves by serving the local trade only?

At what point do we decide to battle it out with the greatest cities of the world for our turn to eat?

Sport tourism is the future – get with it or get left behind, Nelson Mandela Bay.

Attracting international sporting events that bring thousands of spectators must surely be a priority for cities that want to capitalise on their own natural endowments.

Nelson Mandela Bay is a coastal city along the Sunshine Coast, making it an ideal water sports capital.

Our water temperatures are perfect for ocean swim events.

One blemish is our road infrastructure, which needs attention.

To upgrade a road for one event is surely not feasible.

It cannot be about Ironman.

The Ironman 70.3 World Championship is just a catalyst to build an attractive value proposition to attract major events.

Surely we should all see the big picture.

Until Saturday, I had planned to dedicate this column to a story of a young man who grew up and lives in Walmer Township, surrounded by poverty, alcohol abuse and a sense of hopelessness.

He will this weekend make Ironman history. His life changed when he met Ironman director Paul Wolff.

You see, this fellow is very good with his hands and at the time he was working as a handyman at a Humewood gym.

Paul noticed his work ethic and athletic build and decided to offer him an opportunity to join the Ironman development initiative.

To ease the income burden, Wolff and his partners hired him to assist at their local sport shop.

As expected, he soon worked himself into one of the most likeable and friendliest sport shop sales guys you will ever meet.

I am talking about Hanson Mziwanele Singaphi, the first-ever black South African to feature at the holy grail of Ironman, in Kona.

On Saturday, the world will see the story of this young African unfold on live TV (US) and live stream for the globe.

Hanson’s story will inspire generations to come and help them believe that anything is possible.

Soon every young aspiring triathlete across the Bay will know that it is possible to go from Walmer to Kona, Hawaii. Aloha Hanson!

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