By Michael Nsubuga
AIRTEL has entered into a four-year partnership worth over sh1bn per annum with FUFA to sponsor the Uganda Cranes.
The partnership that replaces the one FUFA had with MTN also includes sponsorship of the Uganda Cup and the FUFA Big League. It encompasses cash as well as promotion of the said activities as a way of leveraging the sponsorship.
This is in addition to the national Airtel Rising Stars U-17 tournament which Airtel has sponsored for the last three years.
Airtel MD VG Somashekar signs the agreement while Hannington Karuhanga looks. Photo by Mpalanyi Ssentongo
FUFA President Moses Magogo puts pen to paper on the deal. Photo by Mpalanyi Ssentongo
FUFA president Moses Magogo and Airtel board member Hannington Karuhanga signed the deal witnessed by Airtel MD VG Somashekar, FUFA's Darious Mugoye and state sports minister Charles Bakkabulindi at Serena Hotel gardens on Monday.
Addressing a press conference at which the deal was signed Airtel managing director VG Somashekar said the sponsorship was part of giving back to the social, economic and cultural fabric of the Ugandan economy.
"We think there are three big growth engines in Uganda apart from the economic growth which is; Agriculture, Sports and tourism and there is only one connecting part which is football. The more we invest in football and engage the youth to play the more we will take football forward. We welcome the Cranes to Airetl and are delighted to be associated with such a brand and looking forward to a sustained relationship going forward," Somashekar stated.
Cranes players were in attendance as was coach Micho Sredojevic. Photo by Mpalanyi Ssentongo
State sports Minister Charles Bakkabulindi welcomed the sponsors and urged FUFA to ensure they follow up players who pass through the underage tournaments like the Airtel Rising Stars tournament and induct them to the relevant national teams.
"Much as the Cranes is an obligation for government such partnerships are welcome, I'm very happy that Airtel has got this opportunity to sponsor the Cranes, now the ring is complete, that they also sponsor the U-17 the players, following them up and inducting them into the national team will be easy," Bakkabulindi said.
He said football evokes emotions of sadness, joy, brotherhood, patriotism and these can only be realized with such sponsors.
"Let FUFA make this sponsorship a reality and relevant to the Cranes and also be transparent to the public so that from the start everyone knows where the sponsorship starts and ends so that government is also aware of when to come in to assist the team," Bakkabulindi said.
He called on the players and officials to put interest of football and the national team ahead of their 'selfish interests'.
FUFA president Moses Magogo said this was a massive sponsorship for football and said that these were indeed good times for the Cranes on and off the pitch.
"We look forward to nurturing this new sponsorship as we continue to persevere and strive for success. I call upon FUFA members, fans, media and the Cranes personnel to show case the power of football as a commercial vehicle to Airtel," Magogo said.