Corporate SA sidesteps federations for athletes

TYMEBANK sidestepped SAFA and gave sponsorship funds directly to Banyana Banyana players. | Archives

TYMEBANK sidestepped SAFA and gave sponsorship funds directly to Banyana Banyana players. | Archives

Published Jun 29, 2024


SOUTH Africa is far from being a truly sports-mad country, but former president Nelson Mandela was once moved to remark: “It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.”

Mandela said this during an address at the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation in Monaco in 2000. Ever since, South African politicians, almost without fail, have repeated this speech as a source of inspiration when speaking at sports events.

South African sports have enjoyed success in the international arena over the years, but many sporting campaigns were hamstrung by a lack of support on various fronts.

There has also been the problem of poorly-performing national sports federations. This has resulted in a lack of much-needed sponsorship, even though some federations have produced excellent performances in sports arenas around the world.

Corporate South Africa has been hesitant to back federations, although some have come forward with sponsorships. However, it is far from what is required to make South Africa capable of competing with the best in the world.

In recent times, there have been a few sponsorships forthcoming, but backers have given the national federations a wide berth.

Since South Africa’s readmission to the Olympics, swimming has been the top medal-producing sport. It was therefore no surprise that pool and spa chemicals company HTH sponsored a group of five swimmers who will be competing in the Paris Olympic Games.

These swimmers are coached by South Africa’s top swimming coach, Rocco Meiring

Meiring and his Tuks swimmers were given a R500 000 cash injection from HTH, which launched its “Pool of Heroes” campaign a few weeks ago.

The swimmers, all at university, can concentrate on swimming training rather than worry about earning an income to help with their upkeep at university.

As a result of load shedding, the funds were provided for the purchase of a generator, which was needed to ensure pool conditions were suitable for training.

The funds also allow for the maintenance of pools, which the Olympic swimmers use for training daily. The pools at Tuks are well-used and maintenance is vital for the well-being of the swimmers.

Instead of dealing with Swimming South Africa, swimming’s national governing body, the company has pumped funds directly to the athletes in the hope of producing more Olympians.

HTH marketing manager Elsabe Venter said the sponsorship was important for the country’s future growth and success in sport.

“Sports funding is a win-win scenario for both the brand and the athletes supported, provided the values align. We believe that empowering young sporting talent is critical for our country’s future growth and success,” said Venter.

“HTH values are not limited to pool owners or our customers, but rather the upliftment of the community where we, as a brand, operate.

“We strongly encourage brands, as well as the corporate sector, to be active participants in backing South Africa’s up-and-coming athletes.”

A few days ago, TymeBank, South Africa’s first majority black-owned bank, invited Banyana Banyana and their technical staff to a presentation. They were given a R2 million donation in recognition of their “hard work and their 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup success”.

SAFA was not present at the presentation function and the company dealt directly with the players and staff.