By NAKAMPE LEKWADU
SUKETI Patel should be pinching himself after his re-election as the COSAFA president was short-lived by the sad news by Metropolitan’s withdrawal from sponsoring the organisation.
Metropolitan announced this week that they will not be renewing their contract with the organisation which they have been part of in the past five years as sponsors for the COSAFA Under-20 Youth Challenge.
Patel unanimously won the December 9 elections after his only challenger, Danny Jordaan who is also the SA Football Association’s vice-president withdrew from challenging the COSAFA presidency.
The announcement came few days after the organisation hosted the Metropolitan COSAFA Under-20 Youth Challenge in Botswana which was won by Zambia. It was the second time that the competition was held in Botswana which hosted the competition last year, and was ironically also won by Zambia.
It is evident that Patel and his new executive are facing a mammoth task of finding a replacement for Metropolitan, especially after having failed to get the sponsor for the organisation’ senior tournament which used to be sponsored by Castle.
In announcing their decision to withdraw from sponsoring the tournament with effect from the end of March 2012, Metropolitan brand executive, Belinda Faulker said they were forced by a strategic review of all sponsorship properties by Metropolitan following the merger between Metropolitan and Momentum in December 2010 to create MMI Holdings.
“The decision to withdraw was a difficult one as we have made a significant investment in the COSAFA U-20 Youth Championship during our six-year partnership. We are confident that we are leaving the tournament in good shape for a potential new sponsor,” said Faulkner.
“Essentially, we believe that by refocusing our resources and funding to our other soccer properties and financial education initiatives, we can reach our consumers and meet our business objectives more effectively.
“Research indicates that less than 6% of South Africans save. There is an overwhelming need for financial education, and this will be a strong focus for us going forward.”
Through the COSAFA U-20 Youth Championship, Metropolitan has helped showcase the talents of thousands of youngsters across the continent. Players who have benefitted include Thulani Serero and Knowledge Musona, who have gone on to achieve great things both on and off the field.
An important component of Metropolitan’s soccer sponsorships is life skills workshops that focus on areas such as financial literacy and HIV/Aids education, as well as community empowerment through creating opportunities for small business development and infrastructure development.
“We have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with COSAFA and would like to thank them for their ongoing commitment and dedication to the development of football in the southern Africa region. We also extend our appreciation to the teams, coaches, local organising committees and suppliers for their longstanding support,” Faulkner added.
Metropolitan will honour all existing obligations and activation support stipulated in the contract with COSAFA, which runs for another three months.