The power of sports sponsorship in community empowerment

By Guardian Correspondent , The Guardian
Published at 05:19 PM Mar 29 2024
Mtibwa Sugar's fullback, Abdul Hillary, negotiates his way past Prisons' center-back, Jumanne Elfadhili, when the clubs met in a 2023/24 NBC Premier League duel played at Manungu Stadium in Morogoro on March 9.
Mtibwa Sugar's fullback, Abdul Hillary, negotiates his way past Prisons' center-back, Jumanne Elfadhili, when the clubs met in a 2023/24 NBC Premier League duel played at Manungu Stadium in Morogoro on March 9.

TANZANIA's soccer is currently enjoying an unprecedented surge of success. Young Africans (Yanga) and Simba SC are in the 2023/24 CAF Champions League quarterfinals, while senior national squad 'Taifa Stars', and women's side, 'Twiga Stars', secured spots in AFCON tournaments.

Tanzania hosted the African Football League for the first time, and the joint 'Pamoja Bid' for hosting the 2027 AFCON with Kenya and Uganda is highly praised.

It is an exciting time to be a soccer fan in Tanzania — the country's football stakeholders ought to seize the moment and embrace the opportunities ahead.

At the heart of this soccer renaissance lies the remarkable growth of the local top flight, NBC Premier League, now ranked sixth in Africa.

While I proudly declare my allegiance as an NBC staff, credit must be given where it is due— the best league yields the best teams and results.

Structured governance by the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF), backed by governmental support and significant investments from Azam Media Limited and NBC Bank, has turned the NBC Premier League into a formidable force.

What started as corporate sponsorship is transforming the country's whole community. Thanks to broadcast investment, all 240 NBC Premier League matches are telecast live on Azam TV, making it the only league in East and Central Africa with such extensive coverage.

Such an achievement came with a larger fan base and increased commercial value that attracts top bucks, creating a war chest for top talent recruitment and infrastructure development.

Soccer stakeholders have to picture this- during the just-ended 2023 AFCON played in Ivory Coast, the NBC Premier League supplied 22 players from five different nations.

Additionally, out of the eight teams in this season's CAF Champions League last-eight phase, the NBC Premier League stands alone with two teams.

Yet, what is more appealing is the fact that the impact has eclipsed beyond football. The NBC Premier League now catalyzes economic empowerment, generating employment opportunities and financial transactions across the broader economic spectrum.

With over 8,000 direct jobs, ranging from players, technical benches, stadium stewards, club officials, and millions of other jobs in the supply chain, the league has become a vital contributor to job creation, employing individuals with diverse skill sets and qualifications.

Match days in the NBC Premier League have transformed into dynamic economic drivers, turning towns into lively centers of commerce and energy, where businesses thrive and local economies flourish.

This spread of economic impact reaches far and wide. I enjoy the excitement and atmosphere in my home village of Turiani during big matches, particularly when popular clubs head to the town to lock horns with my beloved Mtibwa Sugar FC.

Ever heard of the economics term 'tractor effects?' The league causes what is termed in economics as the 'tractor effect' on Tanzania's economy by trickling down the gains to every sector along the value chain—from merchandise sales to betting, tourism, and entertainment, the list is endless.

The NBC Premier League's global appeal has reached countries like Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, Rwanda, and the DRC through broadcast exports, engaging an international audience and boosting Tanzania's global brand.

It serves as Tanzania's tourism gem, pushing the brand Tanzania worldwide. Witnessing Yanga and Simba SC launch their fan clubs in towns like Lubumbashi and Mombasa fills me with great pride.

Investing in sports is not merely a luxury but a strategic imperative for Tanzania's socioeconomic development.

The resilience and sound base of the NBC Premier League should be our stepping stone.

With AFCON coming home in 2027, Tanzania's soccer stakeholders ought to capitalize on this momentum and build towards a brighter future— one goal at a time. As the skeptics ask 'why?', our resounding answer remains 'Why not!'