KAMPALA – One of the challenges the sports fraternity has been facing is having many corporate companies get on board to support this multi- talented sector.
In their efforts to attract more fans both in the stadia, digitally and improvement of the wellfare of the players. MTN Uganda has pumped a tune of Ugx.600million in the StarTimes Uganda Premier league for a period of two years.
This was announced on Wednesday, February 9, at a joint press conference hosted by FUFA and Uganda Premier League( UPL) at Golden Tulip in Kampala.
More so, this was in addition to being the a broad cast sponsor of the Star times Uganda Premier League that airs on Next Media platforms.
In his comments, Arinaitwe Rugyendo, Chairman, UPL said that it was a serious event and it was the reason he wore a suit for that matter.
“It gives me pleasure to be part and see back a great partner. In 2015, the league was written off by corporate organisations and after that we embarked on serious organisations and dealt with a few things that included : hooliganism, professionalism, governance, funny politics among other unpleasant issues. I’m happy the big boys are now back and salute MTN Uganda for thinking about football and this is the game changer. We are going to have a market mix of the UPL since MTN have the buzz”. Arinaitwe said.
He also re-echoed that partners want discipline and this has been executed by the fans except a few cases and they are looking at this as a new product with plans of awarding their players at the end of the season.
Arinaitwe promised value for money since they 16 clubs, before appealing to the rest of the fans to embrace their services as a way of supporting football.
Further more, he urged the press to protect the image of the sport so that other partners can get on board since they are not interested in wrangles and fights, adding that Uganda has over 9000 factories and the best way they can be safe and protect their capital was to invest in sport since it helps to tackle the issue of unemployment and idle minds among the youth.
On behalf of MTN Uganda , Mr. Somdev Sen, Chief Marketing Officer said that they have also worked for the betterment of sports in this country and they are glad that big governing bodies have given them an opportunity.
“AFCON ended and we are thinking when we shall be there. For us, UPL is the driver for Uganda’s dream that we have for the next 5 to 10 years. We are only to achieve this with more and more hands are needed.
” We have committed Ugx.600 million for the next two years but this is not the most important thing because we are looking to walk with the bodies for the next years. Football has grown more than the stadia and since we are in the communications, we have a major role to take the UPL to the next level especially the digital way.
“We are the sponsors of KCCA, Onduparaka among others thing and we are just starting because our dream is to have Uganda participarte in major tournaments and probably World Cup in the next 10 years”. Somdev added
He also explained that their support is not mutually exclusive and that footballers will get better and they are looking at foot ball beyond stadia but in sitting rooms, phones and beyond.
Representing Kin Karisa, Joe Kigozi deputy CEO , Next Media Services delightedly said that it was a celebration of partnership and it was the whole idea since they have the talent and that one of the things was with the fans.
“Today MTN is not coming back but they have been part of us back then and they supported us.They have about 20m customers and this how we can tap into the mix. We are looking forward to have the next generation and this should be the next plan since they are too digitally connected. The UPL brand has become very popular and we have committed over Ugx.3bn in air time. We need more partners so that we grow the brand equity and this is possible by the media with focus of moving forward so that every ugandan has a club they support and I believe this will be a wonderful journey” Kigozi added.
Mr. Kenneth Kazooba , director media and partnership, StartTimes gladly said that they have been part of this and have always been waiting and looking for this.
” Football in Uganda is so big but so small in the marketing and it is why we need more partners and this is not by accident that some are here.There is a lot of potential and the growth of football should go digital and on television. Let us be intentional about this. We haven’t had enough of TV and planning to increase the coverage. We also want to empthasize the role of media and this is one of the reason to have the analysis having the sport moving forward than putting us down and the growth of football is highly dependant on each and every one” Kazooba added.
Hon. Nakiwala Kiyingi, third Vice President , FUFA said that she was glad to witness the major historical land mark in Uganda’s football.
“I welcome MTN once again but this time at a higher level. They make things happen and make a big deal out of small things. I hope for the great noise from your team. Football is no mean a cheap angle and this a big footing since some of you have brought foot ball to our living rooms and closer to our families.
It is very easy for a partner not to get mileage but this time around you are going to see a very fundamental change” Nakiwala noted.
She also encouraged the youth to embrace sports since it was the only way the could make it possible.
Mr. Bernard Bainamani, CEO, UPL pointed out clearly that they are going to work on the awards they hold at the end of the season, increase prize money so that the players can earn something compared to what they have been receiving before and that some of money shall trickle down to the clubs.
Besides football, MTN has emmensely supported golf, athletics, swimming, tennis to mention but a few, and surely these efforts will bring back the fans slowly to the facilities as it was back then.