Standard Bank Malawi plc has renewed relationship with football with a three-year K138.3 million sponsorship for Division One for the country’s three regional leagues.
The bank left football sponsorship in 2016 when it stopped sponsoring Standard Bank Cup which was competed for by TNM Super League teams.
Unveiling the three-year sponsorship yesterday in Lilongwe, the bank said the leagues will trade under Unayo, the bank’s digital platform that connects people, businesses and communities.
Standard Bank Malawi plc head of consumer and high net worth clients Charity Mughogho said: “The Unayo
National Regional League will be played in all the 29 districts and will act as an ideal touch point for our digital financial solution and its customers.”
She said their expectation was that the sponsorship will help unearth players that can challenge for places in the national team in future.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said the sponsorship of the leagues, which kick off this month will bridge the gap between the regional levels and the top-flight TNM Super League.
He said: “This is exciting news. For a very long time, we have had a gap in the structure of football in the rural areas. Our decision has always been to develop football in the rural areas where 80 percent of the population is based.
“We have the Premier Division [first tier regional leagues] and Division One which have separate sponsorships. We stand a very good chance of grooming new players that can take Malawi forward.”
From the K46 million annual package, each region will receive K15 million which will, among others, go to prizes for four winners in each division, referees fees and purchase of match equipment.
Meanwhile, Southern Region Football Association chairperson Raphael Humba said they have always had ambitions to relaunch the Division One, but were limited by resources.
“We wanted to have Division One, but when we approached our current sponsor, we were told that they cannot support another division. I fasted for 21 days so that we get sponsorship for the division and I am happy that we have it now,” he said.
His Northern Region counterpart Lameck Khonje expressed hope that the sponsorship would strengthen their dream to have seven teams in the Super League.
“We have not had a proper Division One. We had one previously, but it was only participated by teams within Mzuzu and not the whole region,” he said.