After weeks of uncertainty, Standard Bank on Thursday dropped a bombshell that it will not sponsor the netball trophy this 2012/13 season.
“In the year 2012, the bank has excluded its sponsorship of the annual netball tournament to allow the Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) resolve issues affecting its smooth administration of the Standard Bank Netball Cup,” said the bankâ€™s head of marketing and communications Linda Kachingwe-Sisya in a questionnaire response.
Kachingwe-Sisya said following this decision, the bank will not be releasing new funding to NAM for 2012. Instead, it will explore the best model for supporting the development of overall netball structures in the country, as it has done through its traditional sponsorship of the sport in the past 20 years.
“In order to ensure that the sport keeps moving forward, we will engage the NAM to ensure continued development of the game,” she said.
Kachingwe-Sisya said the bank is proud to be associated with contributing to the success of netball in Malawi through its sponsorship and other forms of technical development assistance.
“During the 20 years the bank has been financing the game, Malawi netball tremendously improved on its international rankings. The Malawi Queens are ranked number one in Africa and number five in the world,” she said.
NAM received the news with dismay and described the development as “very unfortunate”.
“It is a blow to us as there are few sponsors of netball at national level. Though they were delaying, we kept some hope that they would still assist,” said NAM president Rosy Chinunda.
Last year, the bank did not sponsor the trophy because the association did not have a proper secretariat. Chinunda, however, said they now have offices.
“We have an office at Kamuzu Institute for Sports in Lilongwe and another one at the Malawi National Sports Council (MNSC) offices in Blantyre. I think the reason they pulled out is not related to the issues they raised to us. It is something else,” said Chinunda.
She said NAM will soon convene an executive meeting to map the way forward.
“We will also have to sit down with government and Sports Council to discuss the new development,” she said.