The Athletics Association of Malawi (AAM) has reportedly accepted mobile phone service providers TNM sponsorship offer for the next five years, paving the way for bigger things to come in domestic athletics.
AAM general secretary Frank Chitembeya confirmed on Sunday that TNM wrote the association over the prospect of financing major athletics activities. To this effect, TNM are expected to sponsor a half-marathon on April 19 in Lilongwe followed by Blantyre Marathon on July 13 2014.
“They told us to raise a budget—one for the half-marathon, which is 21 kilometres and the other for the full-marathon. They told us not to disclose the figures as discussions are underway, but definitely we will host the two marathons in the two cities. As for the routes, we will have to chart them but the full-marathon is 42 kilometres,” said Chitembeya.
He said the sponsorship comes at the right time as Malawi is preparing for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the United Kingdom.
The prospect of athletes performing well during the Lilongwe and Blantyre marathons has enabled AAM to include marathon runners in the Malawi squad bound for the Commonwealth Games.
“We indicated to the organisers that our squad would include three marathon runners, but that was based on past records. With the two local marathons, it means we will be able to pick athletes based on latest performance. This is a positive development as you know the country has just received the Queen’s Baton,” he said.
The TNM sponsorship could also boost AAM’s plans to send a 20-member squad for the Southern Africa Cross-Country in Pretoria, South Africa on February 24.
AAM president Godfrey Phiri confirmed last week to The Daily Times about the talks with TNM, but noted that it was premature to comment much.
TNM head of marketing Sobhuza Ngwenya could not be reached for comment yesterday, but Chitembeya gave The Nation the nod to break the exciting news about the sponsorship.
TNM also sponsors the Super League of Malawi and sources said the company’s adventure into athletics poses no danger to the football sponsorship as some reports speculated.
Henry Moyo is ranked among the most successful domestic marathon runners. His coach Francis Munthali yesterday said he is in shape while preparing for April’s 56 kilometres Two Oceans Marathon in South Africa.
“If TNM are to come on board, you will certainly see him running and he will be the first person to win it. Of course, it depends on what is at stake as when you have won bigger cash prizes, it becomes difficult to compete for less,” Munthali explained about Moyo who has won several gold medals in Africa and Asia.