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Ken Borland

Sun City ends era with increased crowds & enthusiastic sponsors 0

Posted on December 09, 2015 by Ken


Increased crowd figures and an enthusiastic response from the sponsors marked the end of an era at Sun City as the final 30-man Nedbank Golf Challenge was completed at the weekend.

Next year the tournament will shift away from the first weekend in December for the first time since its inception in 1981, moving to mid-November as it becomes the penultimate event in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai Finals Series and will be played with a 72-man field and an increase in prizemoney to reflect its more elite status.

But the traditional Nedbank Golf Challenge went out with a bang at Sun City over the weekend, Australian Marc Leishman’s comfortable victory being watched by hordes of people.

According to tournament director Alastair Roper, crowds steadily improved through the week. Thursday’s opening day was watched by a few hundred people less than usual, but then there was a 1.5% increase on Friday and the improvement over the weekend was apparent as 12.8% more people came through the gates on Saturday compared to last year, and 4.7% more on Sunday.

“Overall the crowd figures were better and I think that was largely related to the field, people felt it was very good and provided a diversity of golfers,” Roper told The Citizen on Monday.

“What also bodes well for the event as it heads into a new format is that there was even more enthusiasm from the sponsors, with a number of them saying they are going to have to double the size of their facilities for next year.”

The Nedbank Golf Challenge has always been a marker for the beginning of the Christmas holidays and an end-of-year bash for corporate South Africa, but that might change with the tournament starting on November 10.

“It is one of my fears that the crowds might not come, but we will only find out the impact on that once we experience the new date. Universities and schools will also be in the middle of exams. Already the European Tour are talking to the guys in Dubai to maybe have the Tour Championship a bit later, possibly moving into our old spot in the first week of December. There are problems with Thanksgiving, when a lot of Americans in the United Arab Emirates won’t be around to watch golf, and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but the dates will hopefully be massaged a bit,” Roper said.

“A lot of things will have to change because of the impact of having 72 players, there will have to be bigger facilities for them. Even the media centre needs to be looked at because there will be greater demands with it being the penultimate event on the Race to Dubai. I think we may have to use some properties close by for specific facilities like caddies’ accommodation,” Roper said.


Blue Label to bring outstanding passion to T20 0

Posted on September 07, 2012 by Ken

By their own admission, Cricket South Africa’s newest sponsors, Blue Label Telecoms, “have not really been out there” in the world of sport, which is surprising given that they are clearly passionate about it and have one of the most amazing collections of memorabilia you could hope to see.

The Blue Label head office in Sandton boasts a spectacular collection of cricket, motor racing, rugby, boxing, golf, tennis and cycling memorabilia that is a prominent feature of their first two floors.

CSA announced Blue Label as the new national team sponsors for T20 cricket from Saturday’s opening match against England through to the end of the Pakistan series in March in Sandton on Thursday.

“It’s a big step for Blue Label because we haven’t really been out there that much, although we’ve been behind South African sport for a long time,” CEO and co-founder Brett Levy said. “We have no doubt that we will complement the South African cricket brand.”

While the initial sponsorship is just a short-term deal, there is no doubt there is an outstanding fit between Blue Label – the leading provider of prepaid tokens and transactions in cellular communications, electricity, water and bus tickets, in developing economies such as South Africa, India, Mexcio and Nigeria – and twenty20 cricket and a longer term involvement in the sport is likely to be announced soon.

“The deal is short-term for now, but Blue Label have the first right of renewal and I’m sure the relationship will last longer than just until the end of the Pakistan series. If it’s a good fit, maybe they can take the whole space and move into domestic T20 as well,” CSA acting chief executive Jacques Faul said.

Blue Label themselves are in no doubt that they have much more to offer South African cricket.

“We view this as a long-term partnership, not a sponsorship, for many years to come. It’s easy just to give money, but it’s difficult to build a business together. But we are a company that’s about relationships, we touch about 21 million people’s lives every month, and we share a passion for people with Cricket South Africa. They say you are known by the company you keep and we are absolutely delighted to be with CSA,” Blue Label chief technical officer David Fraser said.

“In the next six months, we want to put together a long-term relationship once we make sure it works for both parties. It’s endless what we can do together and I can see this running indefinitely into the future,” Levy added.

Blue Label are big in India through their subsidiary company Oxigen and, with the South African cricket team also being very popular in the world’s second most populous country, the partnership could bloom explosive success.

With their larney near-field communications solutions technology, Blue Label are also hoping to “create a unique customer engagement model” with CSA’s “wonderful fan base”, according to Fraser.

Unfortunately for them, the ICC World T20 is not part of the deal because the game’s governing body disallowed their involvement due to a supposed clash with cellphone giants Reliance Mobile, who Blue Label supply airtime services to in India. But the proudly South African company should soon start getting substantial exposure in the global village with their logo prominently displayed on the Proteas’ T20 shirts in all other matches.

Faul agreed that the deal was yet another vote of confidence in CSA and their steps in the right direction after the Gerald Majola bonus scandal.

“It’s a very positive sign that corporate South Africa are looking more favourably at us. We want to move on and it’s great to have fantastic brands behind us that are so big in Africa and worldwide,” Faul said.

“The past is behind us and we’re starting fresh. This is a big endorsement of Cricket South Africa,” Levy agreed.

The deal is believed to be worth in the region of 12-15 million rand, although this value could double in coming years as Blue Label assist CSA in engaging more profitably with their fans.

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