By Duncan Mlanjira
Football Association of Malawi (Fam) has secured a five-year sponsorship deal with Foundation for Irrigation and Sustainable Development (Fisd) for a tournament that replaces the Standard Bank Knock-Out Cup.
The good news comes barely two weeks after Standard Bank announced the withdrawal of the Knock-out Cup. To crown it all, the Fisd Challenge Cup will be competed for by all the TNM Super League teams, unlike the Knock-Out which only had top eight teams participating.
The sponsorship also comes with an initial K40 million package for 2016.
At the pre-contract signing ceremony on Monday, February 15, 2006, the relieved Fam President Walter Nyamilandu applauded the new sponsors for coming forward and described Fisd as a true partner of football.
Fisd were sponsors of former TNM Super League team Wizards, formerly known as Surestream.
“When one door closes, another one opens,” Nyamilandu said at the ceremony on Monday. “I am very pleased and emotional because we didn’t expect to secure another sponsorship as early as this.”
Fisd Managing Director Frank Mwenechanya said they decided to sustain their association with football because the sport has the potential to become a big industry in Malawi.
“Malawi has potential to produce top players but this cannot be done if there are no sponsors,” Mwenechanya said. “We will be revising the sponsorship every year depending on changes on the economic front and adjustments will be made if necessary.”
Fam said full details of the sponsorship contract as well as calendar of events, format and prizes will be announced in two week’s time.
This comes as a huge relief to Fam, who were taken aback by Standard Bank’s decision to withdraw the prestigious the Knock-Out Cup. That decision came so sudden without adequate notice prompting Fam to bring forward the Presidential Cup as one way of keeping competitions alive.
Standard Bank has been sponsoring the Knock-Out Cup since 2007. It was 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.
The Knock-Out Cup started as Fam Cup in mid 2000 at a time when the corporate world decided to abandon football in Malawi following a surge in violence at venues.
Several companies, including Standard Bank, were part of the plan to resurrect football sponsorship through the Fam Cup until Standard Bank decided to go solo and renamed it the Knock-Out.