Castel injects K1bln for 3-year Castel Challenge Cup with annual champions banking K50m 

The country’s largest brewery, Castel Distributors Ltd has unveiled a K1 billion Castel Challenge Cup in the next three years, which goes down the history books as Malawi’s largest sporting sponsorship ever.

Each year, Castel will stake K320 million with the champions banking a K50 million cheque and K25 million for the runners-up and the champions will automatically earn their slot in Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions Cup.

This is as dictated by CAF and FIFA rules that the winners of any country’s largest cup represents that nation in the continental cup tournament.

Thomas Reynaud and Walter Nyamilandu signing the agreement

“As a company, we are challenging the footballers in the country to live up to their full potential,” said Managing Director, Thomas Reynaud at the official contract agreement with Football Association of Malawi (FAM) on Thursday at Ryalls Hotel in Blantyre.

“Castel is investing about MK1 billion into this cup with over MK320 million annually. This is an enormous economic responsibility and great platform for talent development in Malawi.

“Our commitment is to make sure we support the government in talent development from the grassroots and that the business positively impacts society.”

In his presentation, Nelson Zotto Banda — Castel Malawi’s sales & marketing deputy director — said the Challenge Cup, to be played on a knock-out basis nationally, will take the bottom-up approach aiming to unravel young talent and develop grassroots football — akin to how global icon Brazil’s Pele and Flames legend Kinnah ‘Electric’ Phiri were scouted.

“By exposing young talent from rural areas, our hope is that we will create a platform where coaches and scouts can choose the right talent to play for the Flames.

“The best footballers in the world came from the townships. They rose from the fringes to break into the elite leagues of the world,” he said, adding games will be played at district, regional and national level where the 16 TNM Super League teams will be seeded.

Banda said the Castel Challenge Cup, under the theme; ‘Ibongetse’ (make it fiery) offers immense socio-economic benefits for Malawi in terms of job creation and revenue generation at game venues, pubs and supporting businesses.

For his part, FAM president Walter Nyamirandu seemed blown away by the offer of the historic “humongous” sponsorship and could not hide his excitement with a boyish grin.

“I applaud Castel for Raising the Bar very high,” he said. “This is humongous by our standards. It is a dream come true because the football family has been yearning for such lucrative sponsorship for a long time.

“I cannot stop pinching myself for such a windfall,” said Nyamirandu, adding that the cup will boost football development in Malawi given the intensity of competition it will create between fringe teams and the professional clubs playing in the top drawers of local and international football formations.

“I can assure you that with such a level of diversity and multifaceted approach, our game of football will never be the same again. There will be very stiff competition from bottom to the top and wholesome entertainment across the breadth of the country,” he said.

Present was Minister of Sports, Uchizi Mkandawire who applauded Castel for coming forward to revive football sponsorship in grand style, noting the feat was unbelievable.

FAM 1st vice-president, Justice Jabbar Alide spiced up the event when he stepped on the podium to break down the format of the knock-out cup and emphasize that it confirms the return of total football at all levels where every deserving team will win cash prizes.

“There will be something for everyone. Apart from the champions and their runners-up, district, regional and other qualifiers will cart home with cash prizes and share the football cake at every key competitive level,” he said.

The colourful cocktail launch, spiced up with Castel bars, was graced by football stakeholders, corporates, distribution partners of Castel, sports council officials, government officials led by the Sports Minister, club administrators, SULOM officials, Super League sponsors TNM Plc, pub owners and Blantyre’s social football dons.

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