The East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL) has launched the Harambee Stars sponsorship fund with an aim of taking national football team to next year’s Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Under the clarion call “Destination 2014”, the company Tuesday unveiled Ksh.110million sponsorship for Harambee Stars over the next three years.
During the colourful ceremony which was graced by the Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, EABL Managing Director Baker Magunda said the company’s move was informed by a need to inspire other corporates to come on board and resuscitate Kenyan football.
“There is enough hunger for football success in East Africa, in general, and Kenya in particular. We have considered this venture for a long time and feel that we (EABL) have the history and capacity to inspire other corporates to come along and ensure at least one East African country qualifiers for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.To this end we are proud to launch the Harambee Stars sponsorship fund”, Magunda said.
The sponsorship deal comes just one week before Harambee Stars takes on the Emmanuel Adebayor-led Sparrow Hawks of Togo in the first leg of the 2013 Nations Cup preliminary round qualifiers in Nairobi.
The announcement of the deal was preceded by a lively discussion on the way forward for Kenyan football by a panel consisting of the Prime Minister, Magunda, Sports Assistant Minister Kabando wa Kabando and Football Kenya Federation (FKF) chairman Sam Nyamweya.
The Prime Minister reaffirmed the government’s commitment to uplifting the standards of football in the country through talent scouting, improvement of local facilities and involvement of the private sector.
“Football is big business that requires huge capital investment. Unfortunately the corporate world has over the years shunned engagement in football development in the country. EABL’s commitment to support Harambee Stars is a sound investment in Kenyan football”, Raila said.
However, the Prime Minister noted that a lot more needs to be done and challenged other corporate bodies to join the course.
He cited an anthology of the English Premier League that has seen investors from across the world inject big money in clubs. FKF chairman Nyamweya said with such support, “Destination 2014” is achievable.
“We have vibrant leagues and the right structures in place. It is possible to get our team to South Africa 2013 and Brazil 2014”, Nyamweya said.
The chairman revealed that world football governing body, Fifa, has agreed to second a top official to oversee the restructuring of FKF’s secretariat.
Sports Assistant Minister Kabando expressed confidence that the Sports Bill will soon be passed into law.
“All the issues have been harmonized and it is now incumbent on Parliament to vote for the legislation of this bill”, Kabando said.
In recent years, EABL has embarked on a multi-million shilling football sponsorship within the East African region. Both the Ugandan Bell Premier League and the national team, Cranes, are sponsored by EABL.
Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro Stars are also sponsored by the giant beer-manufacturing company. The regional football championship, Cecafa Tusker Challenge Cup, has also been a beneficiary of EABL’s sponsorship for the last two years.
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