The Standard Bank Knock-Out Cup originally was Fam President Walter Nyamilandu’s initiative to restore sanity to Malawi football when the corporate world decided to abandon football following a surge in violence at venues.
Several companies, such as Standard Bank, NBS Bank, Press Trust, were part of the plan to resurrect football sponsorship after pleas from Fam and other stakeholders to give football a chance.
This was the mid 2000 when Nyamilandu had just been elected Fam president and together with several of his lieutenants such as Saulos Chilima (now the country’s Vice-President), Wilkins Mijiga (the one who contested against Nyamilandu in the December 2015 Fam elections), Jabbar Alide, Hannock Ngo’ma, Philip Madinga, Wanangwa Thindwa and others, they formed a Task Force under the slogan ‘Make Football Happen’.
Their mission was to woo potential sponsors back into football but first by instilling confidence through self help such as organising fundraising activities — big walks, dance shows and social football. The media came in to help in healing the bad status that football had gained from the corporate world.
Slowly the corporate world responded by first supporting the find-raising activities and as The Fam Cup concept became glamorous, the much-needed funds to launch the trophy was realised and the competition took off the ground.
The final of the inaugural of the K12 million Fam Cup took place on November 12, 2005 between MTL Wanderers and Tigers FC in which the Nomads clinched it 5-4 on post penalty shootouts. After successfully seeing off the inaugural Fam Cup, The Task Force remained did not stop there — they continued to canvass for more sponsorship and as they say, the door will open to those who knock, Standard Bank (then Stanbic) answered the call and stepped on March 16, 2007 as the new benefactors of the Fam Cup with K25 million worth sponsorship.
The trophy then changed the name to Standard Bank Knock-Out since then until just last Friday, when the bank announced they were withdrawing their sponsorship, citing “changes in the macroeconomic environment and all the attendant business challenges” the bank and other business players are facing.
The Standard Bank Knock-Out Cup was being played at the end of the TNM Super League season in which the six top teams in the Super League qualified for the event and two were voted in by the bank’s clients.
Since they have been taken aback by the withdrawal, which was so sudden as it came without adequate notice, Fam is bringing forward the Presidential Cup to replace the Knock-Out Cup as they seek to find another willing sponsor.
But several observers believe, and I agree with them, that the trophy must by all means live on under its original name of Fam Cup.
The observers rightly believe that the football fraternity can make the game attractive by generating its own revenue. In that way we can stop the culture of deifying sponsors, who tend to keep football, at ransom. “Elsewhere,” one said “sponsors run on their knees to sponsor clubs or competitions. They even offer to sponsor a training kit.”
I agree entirely. The Fam Cup can suatain itself through the same concept it started with in 2005 as long as fund-raising activities and gate management is truly transparent.
The English Premier League’s major sponsor is the Barclays Bank but there are many others who also support this league. Their involvement is acknowledged through advertising billboards or apparel around the pitch of each and every match.
This was the whole concept that went with the original Fam Cup. All those who pumped in something towards the concept were recognised through advertising space around the pitch during the tournament’s matches.
That can surely work. Any sponsor, can come in either through having their name or their brand emblazoned on team jerseys, or that they supported a fund-raising, or they provided the trophy and its medals, or that they contributed a part of the prize money or administrative costs.
That can be sold to every sponsor that would be approached so that it is a win-win situation for everyone. Let’s bring back the Fam Cup, through the same style of having the top teams in the Super League competing and perhaps adding one champion from each of the three regional leagues. That’s just my thoughts.