A dark cloud has engulfed the entire netball fraternity following the announcement by Airtel Malawi that the company will not renew the three year netball sponsorship romance which it signed with the Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) in 2013 as official sponsors for the Malawi National Netball Team ‘The Queens’.
This also automatically means that the prestigious Airtel Money Netball Championship is over.
Both Airtel Malawi Communications Officer and NAM have confirmed the sad was news.
Airtel has for the past three years been sponsoring the development of netball through the national Airtel Money Netball Trophy and the senior national team separately to the tune of K360 Million.
“Misonzi idakali kutuluka m’maso mwathu ndipo padakali pano sindingakuyankheni chili chonse….tikhale tikulankhulapo masiku akubwerawa [Tears are still flowing in our eyes and we cannot answer anything right now; we will be responding in the next few days],” NAM
President Rose Chinunda told Nyasa Times in a telephone interview when contacted immediately after the news was broken through a press statement released by Airtel Malawi.
According to the statement signed by its Communications Officer Norah Chavula Chirwa on Thursday and seen by Nyasa Times, the company believes during the three years it has engaged itself in netball, the company has achieved the medium long term objectives it set and it is high time to bow out so that other potential sponsors come in.
“We will not be renewing the contract. We believe leaving on such a high note will pave way for other willing sponsors to support the sport and take it to another level as well as afford other sports sectors in the country the chance to equally flourish from our support,” clearlry states Chavula Chirwa in the statement.
She addded that: “Our objective was to help make netball flourish and now at the end of these 3 years, it is satisfying to witness our investment bearing fruits and our objectives achieved Not only have our Queens reached their potential by breaking into the top 3 in the world and reclaimed their no.1 spot in Africa, but the overall local sport of netball from the grassroots has advanced to new heights in both skill and quality”.
The company says it is well conviced that it has not only managed to establish a stable foundation for the netball sport in the country but also adequately assisted in ‘raising the quality of the sport of netball both locally and internationally’ to what it is now.
Chavula Chirwa also said that Airtel Malawi through the netball sponsorship has changed the public perception toward the sport and its popularlity.
The writing is on the wall that indeed through the company, the Queens were able to participate in various tournaments without hiccups through Airtel Malawi.
Just recently, the team participated at the Fast5 World Netball Championship in Australia where they finished a record third place and the players were accorded a heroes welcome on their return led by Airtel Malawi.
Chavula Chirwa said the company enjoyed the cordial relationship with NAM throughout the period and satisfied with how the money bankrolled was used.
The company further says it is optimistic that the Queens can even reach greater heights by conquering the world netball circles.
“If you were able to surpass the initial target that we set for you to break into the Top 3 world rankings in just 3 years there is nothing that can stop you from raising the bar further by claiming the top spot,” the statement said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :