Zelt Marais Western Province Rugby Football Union president is overjoyed after the acquisition of a new sponsor. Photo: WPRFU

Western Province club rugby received a welcome shot in the arm when it was announced that African Bank will be its new sponsor.

The sponsorship was announced at a function at Newlands that was attended by executive members of WP Rugby, representatives from African Bank, the clubs, and other stakeholders. According to Kaibe Mollo, head of Marketing for African Bank, the sponsorship kicks in with immediate effect, with a particular focus on the semi-finals and the finals of the club competition.

African Bank will also sponsor the WP Club Sevens tournament starting soon.

The league finals take places on Tuesday 24 September at Newlands. Mollo added that he was excited about the newly formed partnership. “As African Bank one of our values is that we are about people. You will hear that we have a payoff line that is ‘We are You’ and we have a brand campaign line which is ‘Everybody is Somebody’.

“So, we want to make sure we spread that message as far as much as we can amongst people in various communities and various areas and we try and make sure that we are very clear about what those things are that people like in certain communities.

“Rugby is huge in the Western Cape region and in Western Province. So, we thought it would be important to at least to try to do something in the rugby space and see what we can do as a way to get closer to the communities, closer to the clubs, closer to individuals. A lot of them have some relationship with African Bank.

“Maybe they know it, maybe they have some of our product range, but they haven’t had a full African Bank experience, let alone have full knowledge of the new African Bank and all the other things we have on offer. Very recently we launched a transactional account called MyWorld which is great in terms of what people do as communities banking.

“We know societies, we know stokvels, we know how people save and often spend together and the MyWorld account is great for that. People probably don’t know about that, so if we are able to engage with the individuals and the clubs and speak to them about MyWorld, great! Then there is another thing they know about us.

“Same thing with our investments… We know that people like to say eventually we want to invest. And again, lots of people know African Bank just for lending.

“Yes, we do lending, but we have broadened our scope to become a fully-fledged retail bank. Increasingly in environments like the Western Cape where sometimes people are worried about travelling distances, with our whole range of digital channels you don’t have to look for a branch.

“You can do a whole lot of stuff digitally, whether you do it online, via the phone on the app, or by doing USSD banking.

“So the real theory behind getting into a partnership with Western Province is to say let us try and do something different as African Bank, let us try and get as close as possible to the people in the Western Cape and let us make sure that we are partnering in something that they already like, that they are passionate about.

“If we as African Bank partner with them it will put our brand on another level and gives us the opportunity to really engage with the consumers out there who would hopefully become our customers. We want to people to remember that as African Bank we say we are you and we talk to everybody because at African Bank everybody is somebody.” 

Danny Jones, club rugby manager of WP, complimented African Bank for their positive attitude right from the start of the negotiations. “They were comfortable with WP and club rugby. To African Bank, we want to say that WP club rugby is the backbone and bedrock of rugby in Cape Town and surrounds.

“On a Saturday our communities flock to the rugby field. Their heroes – yes there are Siya Kolisi and Dillon Lleyds – are closer to home, living in the roads of Macassar, the streets of Ruyterwacht, the houses of the Southern Suburbs and Bonteheuwel. Those players are our communities’ heroes on a Saturday.

“When club rugby is played the supporters do support and they do come. Last year because of the drought the season only started in June and for three months the community felt the absence of club rugby.

“And I want to say, South Africa is proud of the valuable work that all our club officials and players do for club rugby and social cohesion. Without your hard work, clubs, delegates, coaches and players, we won’t have that type of activity in our communities.”

Jones added that he was certain that when club rugby was played, there was a decrease in criminal activities.

Zelt Marais, president of the WP Rugby Union, said he was overjoyed and proud that at last there is a bank and a real African Bank that believes in Western Province, adding that they can make this an African dream.

“I think we have all the ingredients to make it happen. I am sure we are going to walk a long road and a very viable one for African Bank.”

Marais added he was certain that both parties will reap the benefits of the partnership for a very long time.  

IOL Sport