Local netball has suffered a terrible blow after Airtel Malawi announced that it will not renew its K360 million sponsorship towards the Airtel Money Championship and the national netball team, ending a three-year association with the country’s second prominent sport.
“We have now come to the end of the contract and Airtel, believing we have achieved the medium to long-term objectives of the sponsorship, will not be renewing the contract,” Airtel said in a statement issued yesterday through corporate communications and corporate social responsibility manager Norah Chavula-Chirwa.
Some of the objectives which Airtel highlighted as having been achieved through its support include the Queens historic break into the top three during the recent Fast5 World Series played in Australia.
“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 three in the world and reclaimed their number one spot in Africa, but the overall local sport of netball from the grass roots has advanced to new heights in both skill and quality,” the statement further reads.
Airtel further boasts that through their funding, the national team was able to compete in various competitions.
The statement reads: “We appreciate how our resources have enabled and empowered the Queens to participate in various renowned tournaments—from the World Netball Series, to the Africa and Commonwealth Games, and the just ended Fast5, to list a few.”
NAM president Rosy Chinunda refused to comment.
“We can only comment on the matter later,” she said.
Tigresses team manager Hellen Mpinganjira-Tasosa said she was shocked with the news.
“It is a sad day for the sport,” she said.
Blue Eagles Sisters coach Sam Kanyenda said players will be the main victims of the sponsorship non-renewal.
Netball, despite being the most successful sport in the country, has suffered sponsorship withdrawals.
Toyota Malawi and Standard Bank also pulled out about five years ago. n