Observer Sport Talk with Mr Gordon Pokolo, FNB Manager for Sponsorship and Promotions

Observer Sports took time out to talk to Mr Gordon Pokolo, FNB Manager for Sponsorship and Promotions, on the company’s involvement in the game of football and their role in supporting the development of women football in the country.
Many companies, including financial institutions like FNB, often engage in sports sponsorships as part of their marketing and corporate social responsibility strategies. Sponsoring football or other sports events allows companies to increase brand visibility, connect with their target audience, and contribute to the development of sports at various levels. In recent years, there has been a growing focus on supporting women’s football, recognizing the need to promote gender equality in sports. Companies may invest in women’s football programs, sponsor women’s teams or leagues, and support initiatives that encourage more girls and women to participate in the sport.
We asked Mr Pokolo, with FNB having involvement involved in the game of football for a very long time.

Why is there now a specific focus on the women’s super league?
Correct indeed our involvement with the beautiful game is well documented over the past few decades, the WSL provides for an exciting opportunity, and it creates a platform for aspiring young ladies to live their dreams by expressing themselves through their God giving talent.

What prompted this strategic shift in your sponsorship approach?
I like to belief that our involvement shouldn’t be seen as a shift away from Men`s football but rather as an attempt to build on structures that are currently set up to advance the sports, especially the inclusivity and integration aspect of the game. The previous Leadership (NC) presented various partnership opportunities from NPFL to Regional& Development Leagues- WSL was just one of those that we believed our involvement would greatly benefit all stakeholders involved.

How do you envision your role beyond the three years sponsorship of women football?
FNB planted a seed with this new venture, it would be interesting to see what it will produce after 3 years, but what I can guarantee you is that whichever capacity or role FNB takes up after this venture it would be for the betterment of Women’s Football in Namibia.

Are there specific initiatives or outcomes you are aiming for in your partnership with football?”
Very simple, we only wish to see growth – a relationship that foster and enable progress, we can’t be in the same position 3to5 years from now, we would be failing those that depend on football as a livelihood, not just players but the entire value chain that we build around this great game.

With the NFA having new leadership and a strategic plan for women’s football, how does FNB see its role as either a sponsor or a partner in supporting and aligning with these developments?
We in the second year of our 3year Partnership so that should be a positive sign, maybe the question should be how do we build on what is currently in place? We haven’t had the opportunity to meet the New elected leadership, but with that said we wish to make use of this opportunity to Congratulate Mr. Robert Shimooshili and his team, we trust that they are well placed to take football to the new heights.

Are there specific objectives or initiatives you plan to collaborate on?”
For now, our focus is to ensure that the FNB WSL delivers on the success from last season, we have not yet engaged the new leadership, it’s a bit pre-mature at this stage to make any guarantees.

There’s a widespread call to professionalize women’s football. From a corporate standpoint, what key aspects or changes would you like to see happening first to contribute to the professionalization of the women’s game?
Not just the Women’s game but Namibian Football in its totality, a lot needs to be put in place to ensure that Football is ready to move to a professional set- up, we need to have honest conversation with all involved to collectively reach this vision we so much aspire to have for your soccer players, its more than just offering playing contract to players with good salaries, that just one aspect. Administratively, clubs have a lot of groundwork to do to put themselves in a position for the success, from Academies that are inclusive of both boys&girls, why not? The ambition would be to give boys and girls the same experience from a young age. I’m surprised to see that many Women Clubs are not linked or have some sort of partnerships with Premier League Clubs, Ramblers, UNAM, Ongos FC, formerly known as Tura Magic FC, are such examples, where is Orlando Pirates Ladies, African Stars Ladies, Eeshoke Chula Chula Ladies, Tigers ladies, Civics ladies to name but a few, why are our Premier Clubs not adopting some of these Ladies clubs.

Are there specific areas that FNB believes need immediate attention?”
As a country we really need to develop/upgrade our Infrastructure, this must be priority. We glad to hear that such plans are supported in Parliament and hopefully it will come to reality soon enough, also clubs must improve their internal operational modules and put strategies in place that will support their vision, over reliance on the NFA for support is not sustainable. But we have a positive outlook that things will get better we just have to push in the same direction, all of us.

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