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Inside BAA, Nike deal

SPORTS PERSON OF THE YEAR NOMINEE: 400 metres athlete Isaac Makwala

The Botswana Athletics Association’s (BAA) much awaited commercialization dream will soon materialize as the sport’s top brass is expected to sign a deal with one of the world’s leading sports clothing company, Nike, Weekendsport has established.

Reports from inside the athletics body indicate that anytime could be tea time for the agreement to be signed off. It is said the gesture by BAA in last year’s World Athletics Championships where local athletes were all clad in Nike regalia was just a gentlemen’s agreement with nothing concrete agreed for athletics, despite claims that the deal was final. Talks have been ongoing behind the scenes between the two parties for a “lucrative deal for the benefit of athletes at the end of the day”.

This publication is informed that the deal will see athletes smiling all the way to the banks as it prioritizes them more than anything else. “We are only concerned about the athletes so that they can reap something and other factors are on the back track,” the Association mouthpiece Roland Masalila said. A hint for this agreement was made at last October’s association OGM and Masalila confirmed there had been hiccups but remained tight lipped on what could have halted the progress for this development.

However it turns out that BAA was not content with how Nike was willing to partner with them. “Initially they proposed to provide attire for only 25 athletes,” sources say, “but athletics leaders were unshaken on their ground and insisted that at least 50 kits be availed per competition more so they are not shared and this delayed the signing of the deal.”

The other factor that put the brakes on the whole process, according to impeccable sources was the monetary benefits for the athletes. Initially it is said the company was willing to reward gold medalists P8 000, P6000 for silver and P3000 for bronze. This money was to be directed to the athletes who are not sponsored by the company. “The leadership has however maintained that at least gold get P10 000, P8000 and P6000 respectively and it appears Nike has agreed on the deal,” a source told this publication. According to Masalila, they will not interfere with the affairs of athletes sponsored by Nike. Nigel Amos and Isaac Makwala who are both sponsored by Nike will have to negotiate for themselves as BAA is only concerned with the ordinary national team runners.

Information turned to this paper suggests that the runners get P15 000, P 10 000 and P 5 000 respectively after competitions, and this is the reason why BAA will not interfere as it is believed the money is reasonable.

Botswana’s performance in the athletics scene is said to be a niche that needs to be explored, and the company is doing exactly that. This according to sources is the main reason why BAA is pulling the strings on the negotiation tables as the multinational company is careful on the talks not to step on the toes of their clients.

Informants continue to say the agreement will not address coaches anyhow and other entourage travelling with the team. “They will only be given attire but in terms of money they will only get allowances from BNSC, this deal is for the athletes.”

The agreement is expected to see the national runners using Nike attire at major competitions like the Olympics, World Championships, and World Cross Country, Commonwealth, and Africa senior championships. When Masalila was pressed as to what the association stands to benefit he said; “we are only concerned with the athletes we will negotiate for ourselves after agreeing with them.” Efforts to understand how long the deal will be proved futile, however sources say it will run for a year since they are testing the waters. There will be an option to further renew the contract.

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