Karate club pleads for support

Soldiering on: Hayashi-Ha members during the Gabs Open
Soldiering on: Hayashi-Ha members during the Gabs Open

One of the most successful karate clubs in the country, the Hayashi-Ha Federation, is feeling pressure due to a lack of sponsorship. The club recently held the annual Gabs Open International Karate Championship at the UB Indoor Sport Centre, which attracted athletes from South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The club's secretary, Ofentse Bakwadi, told MmegiSport that they struggle to attract sponsors despite the talent that they have. He said sponsors could be reluctant to work with the style due to a combination of factors such as limited mainstream appeal compared to other sports and lack of media coverage like other codes such as football. “From the outside, one might think that we had many sponsors during the Gabs Open International Karate Championship, but that was not the case. We are struggling just like other styles. We had other companies that were sponsoring us for the first time. I know they were a bit sceptical, wondering if they would get the mileage they expected. We are hopeful that next year we will get something better and will surely make the event more exciting and memorable for all,” he said.

Bakwadi said the budget for hosting a tournament like the Gabs Open International Karate Championship varies depending on factors such as venue rental, marketing and promotion, staffing, equipment, and prize money. He explained that they had to cut out a lot of items and ended up doing only the basics due to a lack of funds. He said for them to host a successful event, they should have P1 million in the bank. Bakwadi said for them to be more attractive to sponsors, they need to focus on enhancing karate visibility through increased media coverage, promoting its values and unique aspects, and establishing partnerships with brands that align with karate’s ethos and target audience. “As Hayashi, we intend to focus on demonstrating the value proposition of sponsoring karate events, highlighting the sport’s reach, dedicated fan base, and potential for brand exposure. We need to build strong relationships with potential sponsors showcasing the positive impact of their involvement is also key to our strategy,” Bakwadi said.

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