Gaping hole as Betway bids farewell to domestic sports

Nothing To Smile About. Kobs players celebrate a win. PHOTO / JOHN BATANUDDE

What you need to know:

  • Instead, it was a welcome distraction from the uncomfortable situation created after main sponsors Betway communicated a halt to their activities in the country at the end of last year.

Kobs started their National Rugby League season with a resounding 46-5 victory over Impis last Saturday.

While they have previously recorded bigger wins over the same opposition, the result still seemed like a perfect start to their title defence.

Instead, it was a welcome distraction from the uncomfortable situation created after main sponsors Betway communicated a halt to their activities in the country at the end of last year.

The 13-time league champions were among three sports teams alongside Uganda Premier League champions Express and five-time National Basketball League winners Power, bankrolled by the online betting giants with Kobs partnership lasting six years.

Kobs pinched

“They were very developmental partners. They did not just come along to fund club activities but they found ways to improve the club’s structures and its planning.

Coming through on the financial side they made sure players were paid, sponsoring other club activities like helping us do our social responsibility,” Isaac Lutwama who was Kobs vice president for much of the partnership’s existence says of the partnership.

Daily Monitor understands Betway provided shs140m annually to the club in addition to the shs37m worth of kits provided in what has been one of their most successful phases.

During that time the Kobs have won all but one of the national sevens circuits since 2016 in addition to the 2016 and 2021 National Rugby League titles.

Priceless Gesture. Betway Country Manager  Adella Agaba (C), in the company of Marketing Manager Clive Kyazze, hand over four sewing machines to All Africa Games Bronze Medallist Hellen Baleke (L) in 2021. PHOTO / JOHN BATANUDDE

Power-lift

Of all the teams likely to be most affected are traditional basketball giants Power who struggled administratively.

Power also struggled for funds before being bailed out during the 2016 National Basketball League playoffs.

“The year they joined was with a package for the playoffs. About Shs5m and this enabled us to make the finals, team preparation improved.  Team welfare skyrocketed,” recounts Power basketball club General Manager Allan Musoke.

 “Over the next years, they enabled Power improve on the operations though capacity building in sports management, better planning, improved welfare for the players like training kit, shoes, medical facilitation,” adds Musoke who is calling for unity as the team prepares for the challenges ahead

“Their departure will leave a huge void, which we hope we can close with on-boarding of a new partner. 

“During times like these, we need the fans, players to come together so we can maintain this prestigious club,” he states.

Betway had previously also ventured into football partnerships starting out in 2016 with Onduparaka in a two-year partnership reported to be worth shs780m.

It is at Express where they recorded the most success with their three-year partnership yielding Uganda Premier League and the regional Cecafa titles.

Club revenue

“Their departure leaves a huge impact since we had just renewed the partnership.

They were our headline sponsors that mean a huge part of the club’s revenue is no more,” Express CEO Isaac Mwesigwa says of Betway’s sudden departure.

“As club we believe we shall get other sponsors but their departure has put huge pressure on the other stakeholders (funders) and it could cause some delays in payments of dues,” Mwesigwa adds. The common theme among teams Betway appeared to be a genuine will to see improvement in the standard of sport in the country.

“In my year and a half with Betway, most memorable moment was the club retreat as the start of the season and the monthly Online Capacity building workshops we used to hold with their partners (Forwardzone)

“They used to organize workshops for club managers about how to run a sports body.

“The training they provided on social media improvement and the targets they set for the assets enabled us to improve on the brand affinity,” Mwesigwa further adds.

Sewing machines

In April last year, Betway donated four industrial Juki sewing machines to the Baleke Boxing and Empowerment Group led by 2019 All Africa Games bronze medallist Hellen Baleke to assist in growing her tailoring school.

This is after pictures of her in a flooded house in Katanga slum shared on social media.

The company over the years also worked with the Uganda Boxing Federation, Uganda Ludo Federation and Pool Association of Uganda.

It is still not yet clear whether Betway will resume operations in the country. In the meantime however, it appears few companies will match their impact.

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