Leading soft drink manufacturer, Coca-Cola has pulled out as this year’s Botswana Integrated Sports Association (BISA) schools soccer tournament due to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Coca-Cola has been the sponsor of the national secondary school football tournament, the COPA Coca-Cola for six consecutive years.
In 2019, the company increased its sponsorship to a record P1.2 million, a 50% increase from 2018’s P800, 000. Local school sports remain suspended and despite losing one of its main sponsors, BISA has said the move will not affect their activities as they were looking forward to an inactive period.
Speaking to Mmegi Sport, BISA marketing and communications manager, Letsweletse Jonas said they expect the sponsorship withdrawal to affect this year’s edition, with Coca-Cola promising to return next year.
“(Their) reasons are based on issues of COVID-19 as the whole country is at a standstill. The withdrawal is only for this year, they have stated that if things go well next year we will reconsider with them,” Jonas said.
In March, the Ministry of Basic Education indefinitely suspended school sports citing budgetary constraints. The ministry owed teaching professionals P32 million and halted school sports to prioritise paying off the debt. The move cast doubt over the future of the school sports in the country.
The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare had said there is a possibility for both ball sports and athletics being played in the second term to cut costs.
Copa Coca-Cola has been instrumental in the development of football at grassroots level. The tournament has produced some of the country’s elite players including, Zebras attacker, Mogakolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele who plies his trade in the South African league.