One hallmark of the ideal sponsor must be the ability to marry ROI expectations with the hopes and aspirations of a nation. A decade ago South African women’s football was in the doldrums, it needed a champion for it’s cause, a financial partner armed with resources, dedication and resolve.
In the case for women’s sport, this was a mountain to climb. And yet, the unimaginable happened. Listed on the JSE in South Africa and on the New York Stock Exchange in the USA, built on home soil and with the name of our nation to begin its name, managing 30300 staff members in offices spanning 33 countries around the world, international integrated chemicals and energy company Sasol decided it would take that first step for women’s football, the start of a climb that would change our world.
This year three women’s sport sponsorship heavy weights in Brutal Fruit, Momentum and Sasol were named 2017 finalists by the gsport Awards judges, and after the critical input of the public’s deciding vote, Sasol emerged the 2017 winner on the night.
It’s difficult to argue that this national acclaim is anything other than 100% earned, warranted and deserved.
For the past eight years Sasol has worked with SAFA to develop its leading role in the development of women’s football, becoming a key enabler of women empowerment through football, in line with the company’s position of supporting the South African campaign for gender equity.
Global women’s football pioneer Fran-Hilton Smith had no hesitation: “The contribution of Sasol to Banyana Banyana and the Sasol League is immeasurable. With Sasol’s support, women’s football has grown immensely, and Banyana has been well-prepared and able to qualify for the last two Olympics.”
Sasol and football have a history dating back to the days of Amaglug-glug (SA’s under-23 national soccer team), and the company has been involved in the development of local football ever since.
Since its early roots in the 1960’s and the first rush of popularity when the first national women’s team was formed in the 1990s, women’s football in South Africa hasn’t experienced the power of a serious sponsor as it has in the past eight years.
The landmark 2009 deal saw Sasol sign on as the headline sponsor and dramatically increase the international game time for Banyana Banyana.
The deal also ensured that the stars of tomorrow had a guaranteed pipeline through one of 16 teams in every province across the nation, in the Sasol League at grassroots level, and the impressive Sasol Championships, where national honours are at stake for provincial champions.
Cheryl Roberts, an avid supporter, photographer and reporter of the Sasol League games praises Sasol for its financial backing, saying: “Women in sport and sports girls and sportswomen need funding assistance to participate in sport, develop and advance.
“Financial association with companies like Sasol and women in sport carries the positive benefit of keeping girls and women in football, sustaining competitive regional leagues and assisting the national women’s team,” said Roberts.
“Sasol’s sponsorship of women’s football, by allocating funding assistance to each Sasol League team each season, ensures at least transport costs are covered, and players know they can play football without having to hassle about transport money.
“This is positive contribution to regional football throughout South Africa. At least, the league is being sustained and is advancing women’s football.”
These platforms were of immediate assistance in identifying players for SA national women’s U17, U20, and senior national teams, and today the tournament fields 144 teams across all nine provinces, with more than 2,800 female football players enjoying a still-rare opportunity to participate in regular competitive football.
“Sasol has been the driving force in elevating women’s football, both at International and National level,” said women’s football champion, Lauren Duncan. “Through Sasol’s sponsorship, SA women’s football was put on the map, and more female footballers are playing the game and are being identified. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for Sasol.”
“Sasol has contributed to grassroots women’s football by providing a vision and attainable dream for young girls through a semi professional league,” adds 2017 gsport Volunteer of the Year, Moonira Ramathula.
“Without Sasol there would be no female football idols like Portia Modise, Amanda Dlamini, Simphiwe Dludlu, Janine van Wyk, Refiloe Jane – to name a few – for any little girl to look up to, and to aspire to achieve their football dreams,” said Ramathula.
The impact of the Sasol League on the lives of the players can never be disputed. It has knitted communities together through sport, and the support of women’s football has opened doors to new opportunities for women athletes.
Sasol continues to show its support for Women’s sport through the sponsorship of the Emerging Athlete category and sponsorship of the live television broadcast of the 2017 gsport Awards, on SABC 2 on Saturday, 26 August, 2017.
Photo 1 caption: SASOL Executive Vice-President Human Resources and Corporate Affairs Charlotte Mokoena (Right) receives the 2017 gsport Sponsor of the Year Awards from Gauteng Sport MEC Faith Mazibuko (Left). Image: gsport / Simone Kley
Photo 2 caption: “By allocating funding assistance to each Sasol League team each season, Sasol’s sponsorship ensures that players know they can play football without having to hassle about transport money,” says pioneer women’s sport activist. Photo: Supplied
Photo 3 caption: Global women’s football pioneer Fran-Hilton Smith said: “The contribution of Sasol to Banyana Banyana and the Sasol League is immeasurable. With Sasol’s support, women’s football has grown immensely.” Photo: Supplied