Independent Sport View: Where are the kit sponsors?

The champions of the second tier league in SA, University of Pretoria better known as AmaTuks, enjoy sportswear support. They play under the Umbro insignia.

 

Sportswear purveyors are awash in the SA Premier League where big teams like Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs have been raking in millions of dollars through the sale of their replica jerseys season in, season out.

Of late the same replica jerseys have found a lucrative market here in Zimbabwe and they compare well in terms of sales with those from English premiership clubs such as Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea.

Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, in particular, have made major inroads into the local market of sportswear.

But the same cannot be said of clubs in Zimbabwe. Why are our clubs failing to attract basic sponsorship for sports paraphernalia? Even our national team, The Warriors, wears an unbranded kit. The Warriors have had the Puma insignia emblazoned on their jerseys during matches, but the sportswear supplier are not partners with Zifa.

But the big question to the football authorities is: are our teams that poor to the extent that they can’t attract the attention of even the least known sportswear manufacturers such as Jartazi?

I remember there was a time when the Warriors were sponsored by Italian sportswear company, Legea, but that has since vanished.

It remains a conundrum to me why Dynamos, Highlanders, Caps United and crucially, national teams, fail to lure apparel sponsors when Atlie FC in the second tier league in South Africa have it.

I squarely blame it on laziness on the part of football authorities because other sporting disciplines like cricket and rugby have kit support from renowned sportwear manufacturers despite the fact that their visibility and popularity is much less than football.

The Zimbabwe Olympic Committee this week announced their marriage with Japanese company, Mizuno, for the team destined for 2012 London Olympic Games.

One is always tempted to ask: why not football? I believe lethargy and negative publicity that the sport attracts, also play a part in this predicament. Clubs and Zifa believe the sports apparel makers will knock on their doors, but I think the reverse must happen.

They should come up with documents that contain attractive business and marketing proposals which will in turn make the sponsors turn their heads. Instead of concentrating on unfashionable subjects such as Asiagate, Centralgate, you name it, I think these are some of the pertinent issues football stakeholders must give due attention.

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