HARARE – The Premier Soccer League (PSL) on Friday night hosted a banquet at a local hotel in the capital to celebrate its 25 years since inception.
It all started way back in October 1992 when club bosses led by Morrison Sifelani (late), Chris Sibanda, Victor Zvobgo, Roger Muhlwa and others gathered in Harare to form the National Premier Soccer League.
That marked the birth of the PSL as we know it today with the league growing in leaps and bounds with at least 76 clubs having participated thus far.
Guest speaker on the night was former International Olympic Committee (IOC) official Tommy Sithole, who challenged the clubs to value the relationship they have with sponsors.
“Sponsorship is based on matching values; for example the sponsor and the sporting organisations will have to subscribe to common values firstly before they can talk seriously about a partnership,” Sithole said.
“Unfortunately there are too few companies in Zimbabwe that are willing to put their money into sports sponsorship and the problem is multiple.
“For a start, sport itself is not yet equipped with the kind of expertise needed to educate companies the difference between donations which are in the realm of benevolence and sponsorship which is purely in the domain of good business.
“At Fifa, at Caf, at the IOC the marketers will present to the potential sponsor the return on his dollar sponsorship.
“Visa, Adidas and Coca-Cola re not charitable organisations, they put their millions of dollars in the sport as investment and expect a healthy return.
“There are conditions attached to that particular sponsorship; the behaviour of the sporting organisation, the teams that are benefiting from the sponsorship and the conduct of their players, associates, fans and members; that is protection of the brand of the sponsor is absolutely important and it must be protected on and off the field.”
The former State media journalist also challenged the league and the clubs to be vigilant when it comes to match-fixing and doping which have become cancers in professional sport worldwide.
“Sport being a massive worldwide movement is prone to abuse because billions of dollars flow in from every angle; sporting goods industry, construction industry, hospitality industry, the motor industry and many others come together.
“The dark side of sport is the drug use and the illegal gambling, the match-fixing industry, the human trafficking industry and the prostitution industry.
“Sport is clean but it’s the shady characters that are there for personal gain and cut corners to get a quick buck, who give it a bad name.
“They are dangerous; they are prepared to murder to protect themselves and their businesses.”
Also speaking at the same event, Delta Beverages marketing manager Patricia Murambinda hailed the relationship her company has enjoyed over the years with the PSL.
Delta sponsors the league and the premier cup competition through their Castle Lager and Chibuku Super Cup brands.
“For us as Delta Beverages the current journey began some six years ago on that fine afternoon at Wild Geese Lodge when we embarked on a new journey for PSL football in Zimbabwe,” Murambinda said.
“Delta Beverages through the country’s favourite beer Castle Lager partnered with the PSL in an initial deal that covered a period of three years.
“A league that had endured years of sponsorship draught suddenly came to life as we unveiled a package worth nearly $2 million that covered prize money, technical fees and the Soccer Star awards.
“New sponsors such as Mbada Diamonds, NetOne, BancABC, TM Supermarkets as well as SuperSport joined our efforts to uplift the game by providing various benefits and cup competitions to further incentive the league.”