In countries like Botswana, sponsorships are hard to secure, especially for sports.
Football worldwide is never short of sponsorships but in Botswana it is still difficult and for one to get sponsorship is a mammoth task.
Available sponsorship is only for short terms then it’s back to the drawing boards again.
On the other hand, for a sponsorship to run for a consecutive period of 21 years is definitely incredible.
The Coca-cola Tournament has been going on from 1992 and the current contract comes to an end next season and there are chances that it will be renewed.
It started at a time when participation was restricted to the Premier League teams and the top six in the First Division. By then, there was only one First Division and only twelve in the Premier League. This then meant that there were only 18 teams taking part in the tournament.
The number of the competing teams has since risen to 64 because there has been an increase in the Premier League teams and an additional league in the First Division.
Other teams at district level are also taking part. According to Sesupo Wagamang, the Marketing Director of Kgalagadi Breweries under which Coca-Cola falls, the reason for being the longest serving football sponsorship in Botswana is because of the cordial relationship they have had with the Botswana Football Association (BFA).
“We have been sponsoring the Coca-Cola Cup for a very long time and it is all due to the cordial relationship we have with the BFA. If it was not for that we would not be there in the first place. Sponsoring football has proved to be a good investment for Coca-Cola because our product is seriously marketed,” he said.
Normally a product is well marketed when there are many people and excitement at the stadium. At the time Coca-Cola Cup started, there was such excitement at the stadiums because community teams that enjoy a lot of support in the country were the dominant forces.
There was, however, a time whereby control was under institutional teams, such as Mogoditshane Fighters, BDF XI and Tasc. That diluted attendance and excitement at the matches.
Wagamang concedes that there was not the kind of excitement that they were used to.
“Coca-Cola is all about excitement and bringing more people to the stadium. During those years, it was not there, but we had a commitment to sponsor football. Sponsorship is one way of branding our products and we always had other means to brand our products.
Currently I can see there is a balance of power between community and institutional teams, which I think is fair for our football,” he said.
There was also a time whereby the tournament had its own challenges when some teams threatened to go to court for what they said was maltreatment in the tournament by the organisers.
A clear example was Township Rollers in 2006 when they were on course to defend the title. They wanted to go to court because they refused to honour a re-play against BDF XI after initially winning 3-0.
After a protracted battle BDF ended up earning passage to the finals. Wagamang points to the cooperation they have with the football fraternity for handling the issue amicably. He said even though they do not run day to day affairs of football, at the end of the day football was the winner.
During the 1993 finals when Township Rollers demolished GU 4-1, the former’s defender, Gofhamodimo ‘City’ Senne, was voted Man of the Match and was sponsored to go and watch the 1994 World Cup in the USA. This year 2010 World Cup is on African soil but Wagamang told Sunday Standard that they do not have plans to do the same this year.
“We do not have such kind of agreement in our current contract but we will look into it and if funds permit we would do the same. It is a special experience and a once in a life time opportunity for our own players here,” he said.