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World Cup: Chile extends a heartfelt thank-you

June 24, 2010 |  6:03 am

The Chilean team has been based in remote Nelspruit, South Africa, during group play, but the players apparently have enjoyed their stay. So much so, the Chilean Embassy sent a delegation to the municipality of Mbombela this week with an initiative to open a soccer academy in the area. Chile, the only team based in the area during group play, already has donated soccer uniforms to disadvantaged youth at a primary school located near the stadium as Chile opened World Cup play last week.

“We have received a very warm welcome from the government and the people" of the province of Mpumalanga, sports minister Gabriel Ruiz-Tagle said. "We have had a wonderful time. We wish we could stay longer. In our hearts, we will never forget Nelspruit.”

Said the area's sports czar: "We are proud to have them here."

-- Kevin Baxter in Johannesburg, South Africa