Brakpan Local Football Association (BLFA) club Simunye FC from Tsakane is a uniquely lucky one to have international sponsorship while playing in the association’s amateur leagues. Their sponsor, a German man named Bernard Swaski, is an ally of the club’s chairman Donald Gqabe, and has been helping the club with what it needs, from kits to training equipment, for the last two years.
This helps the club to fulfill its objective of developing players of different age groups – from as young as those in the Under-11s – to make them ready for football at the highest level. Gqabe says they have what they call a ‘Vision 2022’, which is a plan to have the players fully developed and competitive enough to compete for promotion to leagues such as the ABC Motsepe (the country’s third-tier) and even higher, by the year 2022.
Gqabe says he met Swaski by chance; the German had come to sleep over at a hotel which Gqabe works in, and that’s when they started talking about football and the possibility of Swaski, who is a chairman of a junior level Football Association in Munich, sponsoring the club. Gqabe also explains that the club has since been receiving things such as soccer balls, boots, tracksuits, whenever the European comes to town, which he says is “once or twice” a year.
He says they are still expecting more, as his partner has recently started sending the merchandise by ship whenever he has more to give, so as to not wait for when he is in the country to hand it over. “This helps because, as it is you can see how difficult it is to get [financial assistance] here in South Africa, getting sponsors from our locals gets difficult. So, it is a privilege and by God’s grace that we’ve found this man,” Gqabe says.
Their sponsor also carries out Public Relations and marketing duties for the club. The chairman says, because he also seeks sponsorship from other professional clubs in Germany, over and above being a sponsor himself. That also helps the club, he says, which he is grateful for, because he sees that the German “is trying his best for Simunye to be at a better level.”
The club is already reaping the rewards, as the chairman explains that they have players who have moved on to bigger institutions, such as the Stars of Africa Football Academy, which is coached by former Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns assistant coach, Farouk Khan. He also says he has a current goalkeeper who is on his way to trials at Jomo Cosmos.