Muctaru's Blog

I am Muctaru Wurie from Freetown, Sierra Leone. I blog on a variety of subject from my homeland and most of my post feature well researched stories I do.

Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

African Sports’ Search For Quality And Sponsorship

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The passion for sports in Africa is undoubtedly enormous, from Cairo to Cape Town and from Freetown to Mombasa there is an unwavering love for a variety of sports ranging from football to athletics. However, this massive public support and love for sports in Africa have not been translated into massive commercial sponsorship for the continent’s most loved sporting disciplines. There is a dearth of corporate sponsorship of sports in Africa, and the situation is so serious that even the continent’s most loved sports of football has not been spared. Many football leagues across the continent have faced standstill or serious delays and disruptions to the league because of lack of funds.

One of the greatest concerns to African sports organizers, football associations and other bodies is how and from whom to secure financial and material assistance. According to Gbenegbara Amos Deemua, a Nigerian PE Scholar, in Nigeria, despite the presence of big companies the Nigerian government and indeed many other countries in Africa have for a long time remained the sole sponsor of competitive sports. In other poor countries such as Sierra Leone wherein the government lack enough resources, sports organisers are forced to rely on very slim hand-outs from companies. For instance the Sierra Leone Premier league was delayed for six months this (2010-2011) season as a result of lack of sponsors, at the end two companies came in and gave some money which was far below the projected cash the Premier League Board needed, Sierra Leonean FA officials privately told journalists that they accepted the money because they had no other option but in reality the sum given to them was very embarrassing for a whole top division league.

A few years back, Ugandan boxers used to share gum shields, eat sugarcane as refreshments and train on empty stomachs. It was almost the same story in club football, athletics and all other minor sports in Uganda, the reason for this was because there was not sponsorships or enough of it.

The story across the continent paints a very ugly picture at the lack of sponsorship or enough of it, but analysts are portraying a very favourable picture of the future prospects of sports in the continent. They believe businesses are seeing new potential as the number of satellite viewers in the continent grow and the increase of internet users is viewed as many as a strong lure for businesses that hopes to capture the imagination of the public. There is a threat though, and it comes from the professional leagues of Europe, many in the continent are turning for pleasure to Europe and even now as I write this story – African companies are sponsoring television programmes that broadcast European leagues just to target the African public and millions of Africans are flocking to video centres every weekends to watch the English Premier leagues and Spanish La Liga. Some say this is the reason some African companies are not eager enough to pour cash in the country league.

Renowned British sports business consultant, Mr Graham Hollins, says Africa needs the support of business and trained professionals in various areas of sports business to change the face of sports on the continent and also tap into the huge resources and opportunities available for exploitation.

Sports, especially competitive sports require huge amount of money for its organization especially in the sphere of purchase and maintenance of sports facilities and equipment. The good news is companies like Castle Lager, MTN, Glo and SAB Ltd are getting to terms with the reality of pouring cash in sports tournaments in Africa. In a deal facilitated by MEGAPRO, it was announced on recently that Castle

Lager will sponsor the newly renamed Castle Tri-Nations Rugby series, all test

series in South Africa and the overseas tours by the Springboks making Castle the largest sponsors of sports in South Africa which has the best sponsored sporting franchise in Africa.

In Nigeria companies like Coca-cola, Nigerian Breweries, Guinness, Mobil etc have contributed to the improvement of sports preparations recently and studies show that sponsorships are on the rise. Other corporate bodies and business institutions like Globacom, Shell, Nestle, Milo and Africell are also increasing their sponsorship budget of competitive sports across Africa.

While Castle Lager’s presence has been largely felt in the Southern part of the continent where it has it’s largest market, MTN has succeeded in having their presence felt in almost all part of sub-saharan Africa. MTN has been CAF leading sponsor in all major CAF tournaments including the Champions League and Confederations cup, MTN are also sponsoring other sporting disciplines, MTN started sponsoring basketball in 2004 in East Africa, in Uganda MTN is the main sponsor  of the national basketball league that have about 12 teams (eight men) and four (women).

However, it has to be noted that despite the rise in sponsorship, football has been the main receiver of funds and many other disciplines including athletics have been receiving less. This is perhaps because most Africans are mainly interested in football and sponsors are definitely looking for areas of massive public interest.

Magnus Rex Danquah, President of Ethel-Jane University, noted “Sports business is an emerging industry with a strong financial base and if we do it well there will be integrated business for professionals in various fields. There is a lot more business in sports than we can imagine,” he said. Most experts and sports organisers African Sports Magazine contacted expressed their belief that despite the good work being done by many such as Castle Lager and MTN across Africa, more needs to be done by other profitable companies such as mining companies and mobile telecoms.

Africa surely needs sponsorship to enhance the level of its various sporting disciplines and attract quality and huge public interest. Surely, more needs to be done on the part of sports bodies and organisers to wipe out corruption and make competitions much more organise and efficient to attract corporate sponsors.

Written by Muctaru Wurie

June 19, 2012 at 4:57 am

Sierra Leone Premier League Kicks Off After Long Delay

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Local football fans turn out at the launch of the 2011 Sierra Leone Premier League

Local football fans turn out at the launch of the 2011 Sierra Leone Premier League

After a delay of about six months, the Sierra Leone Premier League finally kicks off tonight (26 February, 2011) at the National Stadium in Freetown after a much protracted delay. The nation’s premier football league has been postponed several times and because of the delay, the league will be played on a one match basis. Teams will not play on a home and away basis and instead they will only play on a one leg basis, according to John Konteh of the Premier League board the one-leg basis was chosen because the league wanted to enable Sierra Leone to present teams in time to take part in CAF continental tournaments.
The league which is co-sponsored by leading mobile company Africell will once more put to test the progress Sierra Leone football has made in recent times. In earnest, football in Sierra Leone is still struggling and the main reason for the delay was due to lack of sponsors. An executive of one of the leading company that turned down an approach for sponsorship told me her company refused because they do not trust the efficiency of the board and the Sierra Leone FA, the source who chose to be anonymous because she has friendly ties members of the Premier League Board (PLB) and the FA noted that as long as Sierra Leone football fails to portray a genuine corporate and corrupt free image they will always struggle to get a good sponsorship deal. In launching the league, new minister of sports Paul Kamara insinuated this concern and said they are working to give the nation’s football a facelift and bring back those glory days when football was not only a revered sport across the country but also when football was run by reputable people. New PLB head, Rodney Michael in his opening speech today pledged to do exactly that and promised that they will surely try to give credence and success to Sierra Leone football. That will surely be a tough bet that all of us will be looking towards.
In the league opening fixture, Ports Authority takes on Mighty Blackpool and the match had a frantic opening as both sides tried to take advantage early on. Halfway into the first half Blackpool keeper made a huge misjudgement when he elbowed Port’s Muhahid Sesay inside the box, the referee wasted no time and pointed for the spot kick, Blackpool goalie Banjou was lucky to escape a possible red with the referee choosing to give a yellow card instead. Port’s however took the lead after Donald Wellington stepped up and coolly sent the keeper the wrong way. Port supporters celebrated the first goal in the 2011 Premier League season.
Mighty Blackpool star Lamin Suma gave his team a glimmer of hope after he levelled the score with a spectacular forty yard strike that rifled into the net giving the Port’s goalie no chance. Ports Authority, the team who had dominated this match surely got the advantage after Mighty Blackpool’s Baimba Kamara was sent off. In the 80th minute Muhahid Sesay took advantage of a defensive blunder in the Blackpool defence and bailed the ball over the advancing goalie. It was the final goal of the match, but Port’s known here as the Water Front Boys surely deserved this victory and they will look on to build on this for the rest of the season.