Representatives of the corporate world have asked government to improve sports infrastructure, tighten security at venues and initiate tax waivers if the industry is to attract new investors.
The call was made during a consultative meeting on sports sponsorship between the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and companies in Lilongwe yesterday.
The discussion was part of government’s initiative to solicit views from the private sector on how to woo sponsors into sports, an industry currently hit by sponsorship fatigue.
The responsible minister Francis Phiso, Principal Secretary Chancy Simwaka, director of Sports Jameson Ndalama and Malawi National Council of Sports acting executive secretary Henry Mereka were among the high-ranking government officials in attendance.
The companies represented were mostly those currently involved in sports sponsorships such as Foundation for Irrigation and Sustainable Development (Fisd) Company Limited, TNM plc, Lilongwe Dairy Limited and Masters Security Services.
Fisd marketing and communications manager Wezzie Chiumia suspected that most companies view sports as not being attractive.
“Infrastructure is in bad shape and this shows lack of seriousness. Secondly, there is need for incentives like duty waivers on sports materials that we use to administer the competitions we sponsor,” he said.
Chiumia, whose company sponsors the Fisd Challenge Cup, advised government to lease out some of the sports facilities so that they are cared for.
“If we can get firms to run facilities such as Lilongwe Community Centre Ground and other dilapidated sports centres, they will be in good shape,” he said.
TNM business development officer Peter Hau proposed that government should support the sports industry by tightening security and ensuring order at venues.
“At stadiums you see a police officer shoving unsuspected fans when there is no need to do that. The VIP section is littered with street kids causing all sorts of disturbances. How do you expect people enduring such ill-treatment to come back and watch football?” he wondered.
On tax waivers, Phiso said the ministry will liaise with tax authorities on how best they can introduce such incentives.
The minister further hinted at plans to lease some of the sports facilities as a way of upgrading them and maximising revenue generation.
At the end, the minister said he was impressed with the corporate sector’s contributions, having also held a similar meeting in Blantyre.
“Next we are going to Mzuzu. After soliciting all the views, we will come up with a report. We are really serious on sports development,” he said.