Foundation for Irrigation and Sustainable Development (Fisd) has come to the rescue of Football Association of Malawi (Fam) by offering to sponsor a cup tournament with a starting package of K40 million to replace the Knock-Out Cup which was withdrawn by sponsors Standard Bank.
It’s a great relief to the whole football fraternity because for football to develop it needs sponsors as the crucial stakeholders.
I agree with Fisd Managing Director Frank Mwenechanya, who said they decided to sustain their association with football because the sport has the potential to become a big industry in Malawi.
Our football keeps taking a plunge every time it loses the crucial stakeholders — the sponsors. Fisd has shown its true colours as a football partner having also sponsored Wizards in the top flight TNM Super League.
In the past football was well supported. There were so many corporate companies that supported clubs — Malawi Housing, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, Hardware & General Dealers, Blantyre Printing & Publishing, Brown & Claperton (B&C), CCDC, Mitco, MDC, Admarc, National Bank (Moneymen), Commercial Bank (ComBank), you name them — they were part of the glamour that made the Flames one of the forces to reckon with in Africa.
But these crucial stakeholders slowly bowed out of the stage and slowly our football standards declined. Today, there are very few club sponsors and the largest is the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) that support six teams — Red Lions, Moyale, Kamuzu Barracks, Cobbe Barracks, Airborne Rangers, Mafco.
Mighty Wanderers, who were once supported by Yamaha, Limbe Leaf and MTL, now have Be Forward as partners; Big Bullets (once supported by Bata Shoe Company, Total Malawi and Bakili Muluzi) are being supported by Nyasa; Silver Strikers have the Reserve Bank and the rest are non-sponsored.
We should applaud Fisd for coming forward to save the sport that is passionately followed by the fans. I wish Standard Bank had not withdrawn and Fisd had come in a new dimension such as being the official sponsor of the Flames or bankrolling the three lower leagues to feed the top flight with best material.
But we applaud them so wholeheartedly for their kind gesture and we should all support their forthcoming tournament and create all the glamour that it needs for it to produce top players who would be eventual Flames players.
All over the world, football is strongly supported by the corporate world through tournaments, club sponsorship as well as bankrolling the national teams. Yes, the national teams are the responsibility if the government because they carry the national flag but the corporate world is a crucial partner through broadcasting rights.
The Flames received wholehearted support from the corporate world the moment they qualified for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations where they attracted so much attention when they beat the 2010 World Cup-bound Algeria 3-0.
Africa started respecting the Flames and that was an opportunity to keep the fire burning by continuing supporting them but that was not so.
The Flames marketed themselves through their performance in Angola and they could have continued to do so if the Angola support had been sustained but as usual, we tend to think positively of the Flames if they do well on their own rather that helping them do it.
While Fisd will be there for the Challenge Cup, let’s pray that our football clubs will also attract sponsors to join Nyasa, Be Forward, the MDF, the Reserve Bank, Azam and EPAC.
Thanks to you Fisd for this noble gesture. We pledge to support you.