Cape Town - With less than 18 months to go for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, former Springbok Bryan Habana and business partner Mike Sharman have set out to provide unique sporting sponsorship opportunities for South Africa's athletic hopefuls.
Habana and Sharman have set up a company MatchKit which has already done sterling work on the national sports landscape. In March 2021, MatchKit came to the rescue of the South African men’s hockey team to raise both awareness and over R300,000 to ensure the national team could compete at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics in July 2021.
There were no funds for the hockey team and players were required to foot the bill if they wished to play in Tokyo.
MatchKit also stepped into the breach to reward athletes for outstanding Olympic achievements. They used their technology and social media platforms, to raise close to R500,000 in medal bonuses for swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker and surfer Bianca Buitendag.
A few days ago, MatchKit launched their ‘Adopt an Athlete’ campaign to ensure the best chance of a favourable medal return at the Paris Olympics. The campaign earns support for South Africa's athletic hopefuls.
“Having worked with SA Hockey to help them in their financial preparations to get to Tokyo, we then realised how many other bodies and sports unions were in desperate need," said Sharman.
"There is a need for a new commercial or financial model to be able to help them in their exploits to get to the Olympics and Paralympics.
"There wasn’t enough time during that period then because there were only about six weeks remaining until the (Tokyo) event.
"This time we are starting 18 months before the Olympics and Paralympics so that we can make an impact. We want to raise more than R1 million for our heroes and heroines in need, both the abled and differently-abled.
"How we have attracted interest to date is off the back of our athletes. I put out a tweet one month ago asking Olympic hopefuls to reach out based on those who desperately need funding and or where there wasn’t an existing funding model in place.
"We have proactively reached out to that community, engaged with them and are now ready to make a change. This is the year of active citizenship. We call it subsistence citizenship and we’re not going to sit around and wait for something to happen. We’re going to be the change.”
Sharman is well-known in the communications industry in Africa. He is the founder of Retroviral, a creative comms agency that has made more brands go viral than any other agency in Africa.
Habana said that many are short-changed because South African society have not given all a fair chance of competing and succeeding internationally.
"The unfortunate reality is that the bodies tasked with investing in our individual and Cinderella sports are ill-equipped to unlock commercial opportunities for the athletes representing South Africa on the global stage," said Habana.
“It is not enough to simply pay for an athlete's plane ticket to an Olympic Games and expect a world-class performance. There needs to be a sustainable solution and ongoing support to ensure our athletes are financially equipped to compete with their contemporaries.
"MatchKit strives to make athletes financially fit, to ensure they are not reliant on antiquated institutions, unable to deliver on their basic mandates.”
Sharman has urged corporates and South Africans to visit their website and see the list of athletes in need of sponsorship.
“Choose an athlete you would like to 'adopt' for Paris, from crowdfunding to bespoke sponsorship packages," said Sharman.
"MatchKit can facilitate an auditable, transparent solution and issue you a section 18A certificate, for a possible tax deduction.”