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Sport-crazy SA set for CLT20 party

How much is too much? When it comes to sport, South Africa just can't get enough. The more it gets, the more it wants. It's only been a few weeks since the football World Cup got over, and the nation is gearing up to host another big-ticket event - the Champions League T20. Subhash Rajta reports.

cricket Updated: Aug 11, 2010 01:49 IST
Subhash Rajta

How much is too much? When it comes to sport, South Africa just can't get enough. The more it gets, the more it wants.

It's only been a few weeks since the football World Cup got over, and the nation is gearing up to host another big-ticket event - the Champions League T20. Add other big events like the Indian Premier League, the Champions Trophy, the Confederations Cup and a tri-nation rugby series they have hosted in the last sixteen months or so, and you can see just how much sporting action South Africa have been inundated with.

Against this backdrop, it wouldn't be surprising if Champions League Twenty20 organisers were feeling nervous or wary about how the apparently tired and spent spectators will respond to the event. After all, the spectators may not be in a mood to walk to the stadia after having witnessed so much action in such a short span of time.

But that's where South Africa is different. Their hunger for sports seems insatiable, and that gets reflected in the confidence of the CLT20 organisers. "We are not even remotely worried on that count. It's unbelievable how sport is ingrained in their culture," said CLT20 CEO Sundar Raman.

"To them, going out to watch sport is like the Indians going out for movies. We never get tired of watching movies, and similarly they don't get tired of watching sport."

Sundar Raman can't be faulted for his optimism, for South Africans packed the stadia to the rafters even during IPL 2. The Champions League should be of far more interest to locals as they have two of their own club teams— Warriors and the Lions — to cheer for. "We in South Africa love sports, especially cricket. The word about the Champions League is out now, and gradually we will see a lot of excitement building up around the event," said Jean Symes, a Lions player.

Makhaya Ntini, who will play for the Warriors, seconds this. "Hey, why do you even doubt that?" he asked. "You just can't keep South Africans away from any sporting action. It's going to be great fun, and people will like it."

Apart from banking on South Africans love for the sport, the CLT20 council and broadcaster ESPN Star Sports have shown far more intent and aggression in marketing the event, unlike the last year. "You will see at least five times more effort in promoting the event this time around," said Sundar Raman. “We are launching a campaign to market the event here from Tuesday, and you would see a lot of stuff happening back in India as well.”

Last but not the least, there's the IPL auction coming up, and this can only add spice and interest to the Champions League.