Government explains Leganes deal
By Mabvuto Kambuwe & Ronald Mpaso:
Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife has produced correspondence between it and Spanish second division side Club Desportivo Leganes which led to the team wearing jerseys emblazoned with ‘Malawi, The Warm Heart of Africa’ logo on the chest.
Leganes started wearing the shirts on Sunday during a match against Levante which ended 2-2.
The move follows an agreement between the club and Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife.
In a letter signed by their president Jeffrey Luhnow and addressed to Tourism, Culture and Wildlife Minister Michael Usi, Leganes stated that the sponsorship would be in kind with the Malawi Government bearing no fee or any hidden issues.
“In furtherance to the ongoing discussions between your esteemed country and our club, we would like to formally invite you to sponsor, with no cost, your Malawi the Warm Heart of Africa´ logo in five official matches of La Liga Smartbank that our first team will play during the months of January and February.
“The sponsorship would consist of the exposure of your beautiful logo in the official shirts that our first team will use during the matches. In addition to that, we are happy to offer the possibility to promote Malawi and your ministry during this period, including our social media accounts which have more than one million followers,” the letter, dated January 5, reads.
Lunhow wrote that they were looking forward to starting this exciting cooperation with the hope of Malawi receiving positively the club’s gesture that showed its firm intention for future partnership.
“As already expressed in our previous communications, please note that yourself and/or your delegation are welcomed at any time in our stadium, which we hope you visit soon in any of our upcoming home matches,” he concluded.
The ministry responded through a letter that stated that it had shared the country’s official destination logo, saying it was equally looking forward to this exciting cooperation.
“We receive positively this gesture for future partnerships,” the letter, signed by Sosten Lingwalanya for the ministry’s principal secretary, reads.
This could be the turning point for Malawi’s tourism industry.
Tourism, Culture and Wildlife Minister Michael Usi told journalists in Lilongwe Thursday that the Leganes deal has generated a lot of enquiries from other clubs.
’’The Principal Secretary [Chauncy Simwaka] is receiving overwhelming demand for the Malawi brand. Some of the clubs have even promised to start football academies in the country,’’ Usi said.
According to Usi, one big English Premier League team has shown interest in wearing the Malawi flag on its sleeves.
The agreement between the ministry and Leganes will see the Spanish club displaying the Malawi logo in upcoming matches in both physical and digital media platforms.
Football Association of Malawi President Walter Nyamilandu said, besides promoting tourism in the country, the partnership will also open new pathways for local football players and clubs.
’’We are hoping that football will capitalise on this partnership with Leganes. This breakthrough just highlights the need for tourism and football to collaborate in Malawi so that we can optimise the synergies that exist. It underscores the powerful effect of football in promoting and advertising brands,’’ Nyamilandu said.
Many sports analysts have also hailed the government for striking the deal.
This partnership started after President Lazarus Chakwera met Luhnow in September last year.
The two discussed the issue of strengthening ties and beginning the search for opportunities and talent in Malawi football.
Then, the Spanish club pledged to invest in Malawi football infrastructure, training and coaching.
Malawi is among the five countries earmarked to benefit from 50 million Euros initiative meant for the construction of football academies across Africa.
English Premier League leaders Arsenal are in a $41.4 million three-year contract with Rwanda as official tourism partners and sleeve sponsors.