Sponsorship saga blow to aspiring sports stars

World Boxing Federation feather weight champion Nozipho Bell.
World Boxing Federation feather weight champion Nozipho Bell.
Image: Werner Hills

As the euphoria about  the Springboks winning the Rugby World Cup starts to wind down, many South Africans continue to change the lives of underprivileged people in the country. And it can — if they are given the opportunity. But, as Port Elizabeth world champion boxer Nozipho Bell has come to learn, it often requires more than opportunity — financial support is needed.

On Thursday, we reported that Bell stands to be stripped of her World Boxing Federation (WBF) featherweight title if her mandatory defence against Maria Elena Maderna, of Argentina, does not take place.

A promise by Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani to sponsor the tournament to the tune of R500,000 has not materialised, leaving the boxer dejected and ready to give up the sport in favour of a regular job.

Bobani’s broken promise is disappointing — it is a lost opportunity for Port Elizabeth to show what it has to offer.

But it also highlights the plight of sportsmen and women who struggle for funding if they are not involved in the “top three” sporting codes — rugby, soccer and cricket.

Though she is a world champion of a recognised belt, Bell has battled to pull together the money needed to host a tournament on home soil.

If she is unable to do so, what hope is there for young, up-and-coming boxers?

While we believe that the government should play its role to help rising sports stars, corporates also have a social responsibility to get on board and assist.

If we are to build a truly diverse sporting nation, companies must see the value in investing to help grow sporting codes outside the big three, to inspire generations of upcoming stars and cultivate an audience that could well eventually yield returns.