MOBILE telecommunications company, NetOne, last night unveiled a $1 million sponsorship package for the country’s three biggest football teams – Dynamos, Caps United and Highlanders – with a pledge to increase the support next year if the partnership succeeds this season.
BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
As was exclusively revealed by NewsDaySport on December 22 last year, the three most supported teams in the country will each receive $350 000 towards their operations and other related expenses for the upcoming season, which kicks off in March.
The sponsorship package was unveiled at a glittering ceremony in the capital attended by football stakeholders.
NetOne acting chief executive officer Brian Mutandiro, in his speech, said he was hopeful that their financial support would transform the standards of football in the country.
“After ensuring that our beloved Warriors participated at the continental showcase, the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Gabon last year, by pouring in $250 000, the people’s favourite network is back again, channelling over $1 million to these three heavyweights of Zimbabwean football,” he said.
“Let me hasten to say, we as NetOne envisage this partnership to be a win-win situation, as we anticipate clubs to play their respective parts in promoting our brand and endearing it to their multitudes of supporters. Various initiatives will be rolled out the entire year, as we seek to make the partnership sustainable. What it means is that clubs benefiting from our sponsorship have a major role to play for this partnership to be a success. As a business, our objective is for the clubs to be able to encourage their supporters to use more of the numerous NetOne packages available, to sustain the sponsorship going forward.”
NetOne has in the past answered various calls at both club and national levels after they sponsored the Warriors during their participation at the Afcon, as well as sponsoring a cup competition.
They have also previously helped the women’s national soccer team, the Mighty Warriors, and also sponsored the Women Football League through the NetOne Challenge Cup.
“Once this ambitious project succeeds, we see no reason why we should not come back with a much bigger offering next year and if this happens, everyone becomes a winner, especially football, the beautiful game,” Mutandiro said.
He also challenged other players to come on board and promote football. He said with support from every Zimbabwean, players could earn decent livelihoods and better prepare them for national duties.
“If we could join hands as a nation and play our part diligently, we see no reason why our soccer players cannot earn decent livelihoods and better prepare them for national duties. As NetOne, we dream of that day when the Warriors will form part of the cast at the World Cup,” Mutandiro said.
The sponsorship will come as a relief to the three teams, which have been struggling not only to pay their players’ salaries, but to stay afloat.
The Big Three had also endured losing several of their stars to cash-rich teams, especially mine-owned clubs FC Platinum and Ngezi Platinum Stars.
NetOne is following in the footsteps of other network providers around Africa like Vodacom and Orange.
The decision by the telecoms giant to partner the country’s Big Three must have been informed by their excellent relationship with Caps United, whom they partnered last year in their Caf Champions League adventure, where they reached the group stage for the first time in their history.
The unveiling of the sponsorship package came amid reports this week that Caps United players went on strike, demanding their outstanding salaries, winning bonuses and signing-on fees.