The global economic meltdown so prevalent in our midst has now spiralled down to sporting activities following the latest shocking revelation that Etosha Fishing Corporation (Pty) Ltd has decided to end its 31-year-old sponsorship of the popular annual Lucky Star Marathon.
The coastal meet has grown in leaps and bounds over the years and ranks amongst Namibia’s august events on the annual sports calendar.
The popular Luck Star Marathon and Cycle Tour has been sponsored by the giant fishing company under its Lucky Star brand since 1985, and also serves as one of the company’s corporate social responsibility programmes catering for schoolchildren from all 14 regions, elite athletes and the country’s leading cyclists.
What makes this particular race something special is the fact that it also serves as qualification for both the prestigious Two Oceans and Comrades Marathon in neighbouring South Africa.
Football in the same boat
The alarming trend of corporate businesses pulling out of sponsorship deals is becoming extremely worrisome and unless drastic measures are put place to arrest this scenario, Namibian sport, and athletes in particular, are likely to die a natural death.
As it stands, the country’s flagship league, the Namibia Premier League (NPL) is on the threshold of bankruptcy and could cease operations should the league hierarchy fail to find suitable sponsors, following the shock withdrawal of the principal financial backers MTC.
The two parties reached a deadlock after the league requested more funding than the allocated N$15 million. NPL tabled a budget of N$24 million, which ballooned to N$9 million, but MTC would have none of that and told the league in no uncertain terms where to get off.
The cash-strapped league was now left with having to scramble around for the N$24 million from scratch and it’s unlikely that the league will be able to solicit the required amount of N$24 million within the prescribed time for the league to kick off.
In what can be described as the last kick of a dying horse, the league announced an intended sponsorship of N$3 million – a gesture that was dismissed as hogwash by those in the know.
Closer inspection of the genuine credentials of the financial backer revealed some nasty tales about the company’s past dealings with no registered assets and fixed address recorded apart from its juicy online curriculum vitae.
However, the dominant view amongst football followers and business experts is that Namibia as a country has been taken for a ride with this nonsensical announcement and called for a serious skills audit at the NPL hierarchy.
“NPL officials should have done their homework properly before going public in announcing this sponsorship with no agreement in place. This is absolute hogwash, a cock and bull story and the biggest joke of the year.
“This is indeed an embarrassment to the overall integrity of our football as a whole – seriously, how could those at the NPL have allowed themselves to be hoodwinked into believing such nonsense,” charged an angry observer.
(Watch this space. New Era Sport will bring to you our esteemed readers a juicy piece of investigative journalism as we unzip the truth about the said company’s modus operandi in the past.)