Carlsberg Malawi Limited renewed its romance with local football in a spectacular fashion on Friday when it unveiled a K50 million sponsorship.
The lively launch was held at the pool side of Protea Ryllas in Blantyre.
The giant brewer underlined its credentials as a responsible corporate firm by bailing out the countryâ€™s football powerhousesâ€”Big Bullets and Mighty Wanderersâ€”with a K15 million each sponsorship for the current season.
That was not all. Carlsberg Malawi also announced that it would bankroll the Carlsberg Cup to the tune of K20 millionâ€”it indeed calls for a Carlsberg.
However, the good news came with conditions and Carlsberg Malawiâ€™s chief executive officer Abel Chanje stressed that the sponsorship of the cup can be terminated any time should there be acts of violence and hooliganism.
â€œThe total sponsorship being committed right now is K50 million. This sponsorship can be terminated tonight if supporters are not going to behave,â€ warned Chanje amid a cathedral-hush silence from the turnout.
The Carlsberg CEO also disclosed that it was not easy to get a seal of approval from the companyâ€™s board to renew its romance with local football.
â€œWe used to sponsor football and we stopped in 2003 and we all know why. It has not been easy to get a consent from the board to sponsor soccer,â€ said Chanje.
He also emphasised that the companyâ€™s customers and consumers are at the heart of every decision they make.
â€œAs a company that operates in Malawi, ours is not only about business but also being responsible,â€ Chanje said.
He said the objectives of the sponsorship are to complement governmentâ€™s efforts in improving the standards of the game as well as good corporate citizenship.
Carlsberg Malawi board chairperson Professor Matthews Chikaonda said after deliberations at board level, they saw it wise to come back with football sponsorship.
He appealed to the soccer fraternity to be passionate about football so that the companies can come back to invest in the game.
He also shared with the turnout what he described as a winning formula.
â€œWhat we need is investment so that Malawi football becomes a star. Ghana started investing 10 years before they qualified for the World Cup quarter-finals [in 2010],â€ he said.
Chikaonda urged other companies to venture into football sponsorship.
â€œI would like to encourage other companies to join Carlsberg in supporting football. Let us join hands to improve the game,â€ he said.
He also emphasised that the companyâ€™s expectation from the sponsorship is a win-win situation.
â€œSo, let us have a new beginning, let us work together to mobilise resources for football.
â€œCompetition is what it isâ€”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,â€ said Chikaonda amid applause from the turnout.
Information Minister Moses Kunkuyu, who was the guest of honour in place of his Youth and Sports colleague Enoch Chakufwa Chihana, expressed gratitude to Carlsberg for its decision to sponsor football.
â€œAllow me to express governmentâ€™s profound gratitude for the timely sponsorshipâ€”this indeed calls for a Carlsberg.
â€œYour sponsorship signifies the commitment towards helping government to improve the standards of football. Allow me to ask all Malawians to safeguard this sponsorship, hooliganism and mismanagement are the cause of sponsorship withdrawals,â€ said the minister.
Kunkuyu also urged the soccer fraternity to continue patronising Carlberg products.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilanduâ€”who negotiated for the sponsorshipâ€”described the sponsorship as a milestone as it is the first of its kind in the history of Malawi football.
â€œIt is the first time that one company has come on board to sponsor Big Bullets and Mighty Wanderers, the two clubs that command a huge following in the country.
â€œHaving endured a lot of suffering as a result of sponsorship hardship, this good news comes as a huge relief to the football family. Carlsberg Malawi has decided has to come back in a big way by sponsoring the Carlsberg Cup as well.
â€œThrough this competition, we are assured of providing wholesome entertainment to soccer-loving Malawians as you know Carlsberg does not do things in half measures,â€ said Nyamilandu.
He also commended Carlsberg for giving Malawi football a second chance.
In their brief remarks, Bullets chairperson Malinda Chinyama and Mighty Wanderers general secretary David Kanyenda also expressed gratitude to Carlsberg for the sponsorship.
Other notable figures who graced the occasion were second principal secretary in the Ministry of Youth and Sports Justin Saidi, Sports Council executive secretary George Jana, Carlsberg management,Â FAM chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda,Â Super League of Malawi (Sulom) president Innocent Bottomani. n