South African netball had reason to celebrate on Tuesday – supermarket giant SPAR announced that it was renewing its sponsorship of the sport for another three years.
The sponsorship, worth over R12million, covers the annual inter-provincial championships and the national team, and a national development programme. Part of the sponsorship will also provide for a three or four nations tournament to be played in South Africa.
SPAR is well known for its sponsorship of women’s sport – they also sponsor women’s hockey and the highly regarded SPAR Women’s Challenge 10km road races – but netball is by far the biggest sponsorship in the group’s portfolio.
“We are delighted to be renewing our sponsorship of netball,” said SPAR Group Marketing Director Roelf Venter.
“Netball is a sport that is played in all communities and in all parts of South Africa. Netball’s reach can be seen by the teams that come to the national championships – they come from cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town, but from the rural communities in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape as well.”
Netball South Africa President Mimi Mthethwa was over the moon about the announcement.
“We are so grateful to SPAR for renewing their sponsorship,” she said. “The sponsorship of the national team makes it possible for us to organise training camps for the team, as well as to play international matches.
"We recently played a three-Test series against Malawi, and we are planning a series against Uganda to help us prepare for the world championships in Auckland, New Zealand, in November.
“Without the SPAR sponsorship, some of the teams from the poorer provinces would not be able to get to the national championships, and so the sponsorship is as important for them as it is for the national team,” she said.