NAIROBI, Kenya, October 23 – Africa’s premier sevens tournament has a new sponsor in the form of Safaricom who have undertaken a three year sponsorship package worth Sh75 million.The involvement of the mobile communications provider in Kenya’s marquee sports event will see it christened Safaricom Sevens from next year.
“It’s a milestone for Kenya rugby because it brings together the best sports brand that is the Safari Sevens and the best company in East and Central Africa which is Safaricom,” said Kenya Rugby Football Union (KRFU) chairman Richard Omwela.
Omwela also revealed that the KRFU will continue with negotiations as to whether they can move the three day tournament to later in the year from 2011 to accommodate the elite countries.
“Going forward we want to hold the tournament either in October or November to attract the big teams to prepare for the upcoming IRB circuit,” said Omwela.
Next year’s event will be held earlier than usual on June 4-6 so that it doesn’t clash with the FIFA World Cup that starts a week later in South Africa.
“We came to this decision after talking to journalists and broadcasters who said that if we held it during the World Cup, the Safaricom Sevens would not get any coverage,” said Omwela.
South Africa, Fiji, France, Bristol University and Japan have all been extended invitations.
Omwela added that they hope to take advantage of Safaricom’s mobile update capability to update rugby fans on the national team’s performance throughout the 2009/2010 IRB Sevens Series.
The deal is Safaricom’s biggest single endorsement to date which company CEO Michael Joseph said represents the value the tournament has accumulated over the years.
“I have always been against putting so much money into a single event because I don’t think its cash well spent but the rugby sevens is unique because it attracts so many people who want to watch international rugby and support the national team so I thought this was a good opportunity to be involved,” said Joseph.
Safaricom are also involved in the Safaricom Marathon which takes place in the Lewa Conservancy, Sports Personality of the Year Awards (SOYA) and Safaricom Gusii Golden series.
The sponsorship will be worth Sh25 million for each year. Twenty two million will be in cash while Sh3 million will go towards the media centre.