Safaricom on Friday made a grand entry into rugby when they sealed a three-year sponsorship deal worth Sh90m for the Safari Sevens with the Kenya Rugby Limited.
Safaricom chief executive officer, Michael Joseph, handed over a cheque of Sh25m to Kenya Rugby Football Union (KRFU) chairman, Richard Omwela for the 2010 championship.
It will now be refereed to as the Safaricom Sevens.
Safaricom takes over from East African Breweries Limited as the title sponsors after the brewing company terminated their three-year contract, ending their 12 years partnership with KRFU as title sponsors.
The event has been known as Tusker Safari Sevens.
Joseph said that Safaricom will increase the sponsorship package by 10 per cent every year for three years.
From the package that was unveiled on Friday at Safaricom House, Sh22m will go directly to the organisation of the event while Sh3m will be used to set up a modern media centre at the Rugby Football Union of East Africa, the traditional venue of Safari Sevens.
Joseph explained that Safaricom Foundation will join venture with KRFU to refurbish the RFUEA grounds to the required international standards.
Joseph noted that Safari Sevens has over the years grown in leaps and bound to be Africa’s premier sevens event hence his delight to partner with KRFU in giving it a push to further heights.
“Sport is not just a core mandate of our corporate giving but a major component of our expanding brand asset portfolio. We are glad to welcome Safaricom Sevens into this family that already includes The Safaricom Marathon, Safaricom Sportsman of the Year Awards (SOYA) and the Safaricom Gusii Golden Series, among others,” Joseph said.
Omwela described the sponsorship package as unique.
“The difference is that we are getting Sh22m in cash and this is good for the development of the game in the country,” said Omwela.
He announced that close to 12,000 people attended this year’s Safari Sevens and that they made profit amounting to Sh15m from the event.
Last year, they drew Sh10m in profits.
“ The last two years have been good for us and this should get boost with the entry of Safaricom,” said Omwela.
He explained that Sh7m has been used as a down payment to enable them purchase the Unga grounds that are adjacent to the RFUEA and the drilling of a borehole at the same venue.
The Union requires Sh60m to purchase the ground for construction ultra-modern stadium for rugby.
“ Its inspiring that Safaricom Foundation would help us in this initiative,” said Omwela.
Omwela disclosed that they are still exploring ways of introducing prize money at Safaricom Sevens.
Invitations to next year’s event had already gone out to all the teams that participated in this year’s tournament, including South Africa, Fiji, and France, Zimbabwe, Tunisia, Uganda, Japan, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Bristol University and Greenoble of France.