In May last year, Carlsberg Malawi Limited revived its romance with local football by announcing the sponsorship of Malawi’s football giants—Big Bullets and Mighty Wanderers—to the tune of K15 million each. The giant brewer also reintroduced the K20 million Carlsberg Cup, in total, Carlsberg splashed K50 million. Garry Chirwa recounts the events.
It was certainly a throwback to the golden era when Carlsberg made Malawi football greener by sponsoring the Carlsberg Cup.
The giant brewer renewed its romance with local football in spectacular fashion when it unveiled a K50 million sponsorship and there could have been no better place for the grand occasion than the pool side of Protea Ryalls in Blantyre.
Carlsberg underlined its credentials as a responsible corporate firm by bailing out the country’s football giants. They further announced the reintroduction of the Carlsberg Cup to the tune of K20 million—it indeed calls for a Carlsberg, doesn’t it?
However, the good news came with conditions attached and the company’s chief executive officer Abel Chanje stressed that the sponsorship of the cup could be terminated anytime should there be acts of violence—the message was loud and clear.
He also said the company’s customers and consumers are at the heart of every decision they make.
“As a company that operates in Malawi, ours is not only about business but also being responsible,” said Chanje.
He said the objectives of the sponsorship were to complement government’s efforts in improving the standards of the game as well as good corporate citizenship.
Carlsberg board chairperson Professor Matthews Chikaonda said after deliberations at board level, they saw it wise to come back with football sponsorship.
He further appealed to the soccer fraternity to be passionate about football so that companies can come back to invest in the beautiful game.
“What we need is investment so that Malawi football becomes a star,” said Chikaonda.
He also urged other companies to venture into football sponsorship.
“I would like to encourage other companies to join Carlsberg in supporting football. Let us join hands to improve the game,” he said.
Chikaonda also said Carlsberg’s expectation from the sponsorship was a win-win situation.
“So, let us have a new beginning, let us work together to mobilise resources for football.
“Competition is what it is—somebody wins, somebody loses and for us to continue, [the fans need to realise] that if you are going to win, you have to win with decency [and] if you are going to lose, lose as ladies and gentlemen,” stated Chikaonda.
And as expected, when the Carlsberg Cup rolled into life, there was lots of excitement and full of surprises.
The country’s football giants—Bullets, Wanderers, Silver Strikers and Civo United—failed to make it into the final stages of the showpiece.
And as Carlsberg’s senior brands manager [alcoholics] Twikale Chirwa, rightly observed, “It was part of the excitement and fun.”
Small teams such as Evirom from the Southern Region Football League (SRFL) made it into the last four of the competition, but it was Blue Eagles who had the bragging rights when they won the cup after beating Escom United 1-0 in the finals.
And outlining the criteria of the sponsorship for the two clubs, Carlsberg group marketing manager Gwynyth Mchiela said they would have to compete for the ultimate sponsorship based on three factors—discipline, fair play and performance.
She also said Carlsberg’s vision is to help commercialise football in the country.
In terms of performance, it has been a tight race for the big guns who have won a major cup each. The People’s Team won the Presidential Cup while the Nomads clinched the Standard Bank Knockout Trophy.
“We understand the season ends in February. That is when we will make a statement after a thorough determination for the sponsorship,” said Chirwa recently.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu—who was at the hub of the sponsorships’ negotiations—described it as a milestone as it was the first of its kind in the history of football in the country.
“It is the first time that one company has come on board to sponsor Big Bullets and Mighty Wanderers, the two clubs that command large following in the country,” he said.
Both Bullets and Nomads also hailed Carlsberg for the sponsorship.