By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa
The international football fraternity is fast becoming a strong ally for Africa’s advancement.
English greats, Arsenal Football Club has announced a partnership with Pan African Telco, Airtel, and becomes an official Mobile Network Operator in five African countries.
Earlier this week, Invest in Africa officially partnered with Sunderland AFC in a move that is set to market Africa to billions of viewers across the globe and hopefully deliver more investment to the continent. Part of the arrangement is that the Invest in Africa logo will be posted on the club’s jersey.
Arsenal and Airtel later on this week signed a three-year partnership agreement.
The deal provides Airtel with the opportunity to utilise the Club’s merchandising, hospitality and content rights in five countries, Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Uganda and Rwanda.
Arsenal is also one of the leading clubs in world football.
The agreement will help this north London side reach some of its 42 million fans across the continent. Airtel customers in Nigeria, Zambia, Ghana, Uganda and Rwanda will have the opportunity to win match tickets to watch this summer’s pre-season tour fixture and receive exclusive Club content and news direct to handsets.
In addition to the agreement, Airtel will be designated as the official mobile operator of the 2012 Arsenal Tour to Nigeria.
The Club will also support the Airtel Rising Stars football program, an annual, multi-country grassroots soccer initiative that offers young boys and girls the opportunity to play compete and showcase their talent to selectors in their respective countries.
The selected youngsters ate to get an opportunity to get the best-in-class sports training during a residential clinic organized by Airtel and her partners.
The Club also known as the ‘Gunners’ will provide UEFA-trained coaches to assist with training in each of the five markets and at an Arsenal Coaching Clinic for up to 50 footballers.
Andre Beyers, Airtel Africa Chief Marketing Officer, commented: “Football fans across Africa are known for their passion of the great game. Arsenal’s exciting style of play and a history of working with the best talent from Africa will enrich this partnership and offer a wealth of opportunities for upcoming players and fans.
The partnership provides an impetus to the Airtel Rising Stars in some of the countries that have produced amazing young talent and whose youth teams have gone on to win FIFA Youth and Olympic tournaments.’’
Vinai Venkatesham, Arsenal’s Head of Global Partnerships, added: “I am delighted to welcome Airtel into our family of Commercial Partners. This is the second long-term partnership arrangement to arise from the continent and we look forward to
developing a number of exciting initiatives with Airtel, starting with our forthcoming tour to Nigeria in August. This underlines the depth of our following in Africa and how the profile of the Club continues to grow internationally.”
It is the Club’s second pre-season tour to Africa, having played a fixture in South Africa in 1993. The 2012 visit will feature a game between the Arsenal first-team and the Nigerian National Team the Super Eagles on Saturday 5th August. Airtel is in the process of finalising arrangements that will give selected consumers a chance to watch the match and interact with the team in Abuja. The details of the promotion will be announced soon.
Arsenal has a strong heritage of success, progressive thinking and financial stability. The Club was founded in 1886 in Woolwich, south London, before moving to Highbury in north London in 1913.
Arsenal celebrated its 125th anniversary in the 2011/2012 season, with an impressive roll of honour: English League Champions 13 times, FA Cup winners 10 times, League Cup winners twice and European Cup Winners’ Cup (1994) and European Fairs Cup (1970) winners once. In addition, Arsenal Ladies are the most successful English club in women’s football.