2007 is already half way through and certain popular sports codes in Botswana are still battling to attract sponsorships. Codes, such as Volleyball, Softball and basketball, are not having it easy and some of their leagues are yet to commence. What pains the most is that the above mentioned sports codes used to have sponsors for their leagues and tournaments. Volleyball used to be bankrolled by cellular giants Mascom and even Botswana Breweries Limited (BBL). The Botswana Volleyball Federation enjoyed Mascom sponsorship for the men’s league while BBL sponsored the women’s league. For years now, softball has been running without an official sponsor. Despite the financial constraints that the Botswana Softball Association finds itself in, they are still running their league without a sponsor. Basketball also used to be sponsored by Sprite, but since their relationship came to an end about three years ago they just run their league from their own pockets. Currently, both the basketball and volleyball leagues are yet to start.
The Public Relations Officer of the Botswana Basketball Association (BBA), Abigail Mogaga, would not say why they are still struggling to secure sponsorships. Their committee was voted into the office this year. She told The Sunday Standard that they are, however, not just folding their arms but are always knocking on many companies’ doors to plead for sponsorships.
Mogaga also said despite the difficult circumstances they will be starting their league in August and if a sponsor can come on board they would be steps ahead.
“It is really difficult to run the league without a sponsor, but our teams understand the situation and they are trying with all they got for the league to start. Others have even gone to the extent of saying they will undertake several activities to raise the money,” she said.
On the other hand, the Sports, Marketing and Communications Manager of the Botswana National Sports Council, Eunice Hirschefeld Lawrence, said most sports codes still need to do a lot to attract sponsorships. She said nowadays companies do not just give away their money for the sake of sponsorship but they take a lot of things into consideration.
“It is a pity that some of our codes do not have sponsors, and this obviously means something needs to be done. There must be something for a sponsorship that should benefit the sponsors. Also once codes secure sponsorships they must not relax and think that they already have money because other organisations always knock on the same doors for sponsorship. The market in Botswana is also small and companies might divert their money somewhere else. There must also be accountability and transparency from the codes if they want to maintain their long relationships with sponsors. Companies would not give out their money if they do not know what exactly is going on, “she said.
Lawrence also said some codes are suffering because they do not have a large following. She said other companies want their brand to reach the masses instead of a few people and, as such, other codes would always trail others. In such instances, she said, some codes, like football, would have an advantage over others.
“Most companies want to reach out to many people and football would always be at the top in Botswana and others are automatically disadvantaged. But those disadvantaged should not just sit saying they are not popular. They must just keep on trying and knock from company to company,” she said.
Lawrence stressed that performance of companies and the economy of the country have an effect on sponsorships. She said once the company is experiencing problems they start to cut the costs.
“Economy of the country determine performances of companies. Once the economy is not doing well there is no way companies can pump the money into sports because they concentrate on their survival. But currently in Botswana our economy is doing well,” she said.
Lawrence said companies have performance policies. She said companies in most cases sponsor codes looking at how they perform at various levels like at local and international competitions.