POTCHEFSTROOM, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 25, Max Jordaan (Womens Cricket Manager), Jacques Faul (Acting CSA CEO), Tharina van Wyk (Chairman Women Committee) and Danie van der Bergh (Heand of Momentum Brand) during the Cricket SA sponsorship announcement at Senwes Park Lecture Room, Senwes Park Cricket Stadium on January 25, 2013 in Potchefstroom, South Africa Photo by Lee Warren / Gallo Images

Potchefstroom – On the eve of their departure for the ICC Women’s World Cup in India, the women’s national cricket team secured a six-year sponsorship deal with financial services group Momentum.

“This is a landmark sponsorship for our national women’s team, being the first significant financial backing they have ever received,” said Cricket SA’s acting CEO Jacques Faul in Potchefstroom on Friday.

“This deal will also go a long way to assist our development programmes to increase the depth in our women’s game.”

Faul said it would be a massive confidence boost for captain Mignon du Preez and the rest of the side, who would now take to the field in India with a sponsorship logo on their shirts for the first time.

He admitted women’s cricket was a difficult product to sell because of its limited media exposure.

“Women’s cricket in South Africa has been badly neglected and it’s hugely challenging for the affiliates to give equal attention and allocate resources to all the different facets of the game.

“The sponsor’s attitude has been fantastic and we want to make women’s cricket as close to a professional set-up and we can, otherwise we will never be able to challenge the likes of England or Australia.”

Women’s cricket in South Africa had suffered the same disadvantages as the national netball team and other sports which were non-professional.

The Proteas were extremely competitive against the amateur sides, but were never quite able to cross the bridge and challenge the professional teams.

It was hoped this injection of cash would pave the way for more funding to be made available from both CSA and other sponsors, which would eventually lead to women cricketers getting CSA contracts and endorsements.

“We talk a lot about gender equality, but we don’t fund it, but this is a start and hopefully the ICC are also moving in that direction to give women more exposure.”

“The more we see it on television, the better it will be, but it needed someone to come to us and say 'we want to do it'.”

Momentum’s brand manager Danie van den Berg said their recent association with the One-Day Cup had been a massive boost for them and, while they realised they would never get the same benefit from the women’s game, it fitted with their image to promote the role of the family as well as gender equality.

The ICC Women’s World Cup will be held from January 31 to February 17 in India.

South Africa play their first game of the tournament against New Zealand on February 1. – Sapa