The Executive Management of Vodacom
Dr. Irvin Khoza and the family of Orlando Pirates Football Club
Management and family of Kaizer Chiefs Football Club
Members of Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
It gives me great pleasure to be a part of this auspicious event this morning. The occasion is typical of couples that celebrate their anniversary by renewing their marital vows; perhaps one of the most fulfilling chapter in the life of mankind.
The difference between this occasion and the exchanging of vows between two people is that there are three partners of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and VODACOM whose union has survived years of bliss and challenges.
In the words of Rosabeth Moss Kanter;
“People who believe they will win are more likely to put in the effort to ensure victory. Their halo effect makes it easier to attract the best talent and the investments to perpetuate victory”.
Thirteen years ago in some manicured room, Executive Representatives of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and VODACOM assembled brains, thought and vision to weave an elaborate tapestry of business that remains by far the most endearing of corporate marriages in the history of South African football.
Governing all permutations was a belief that the tripartite institution will win and therefore required the best effort to ensure victory as stated by Rosabeth Moss Kanter above.
I am also certain that resting above the meeting chamber at that time was the presence of GOD the Almighty who had hovered over Israel as a protective sheath and a master of providence during their forty years of sojourn in wilderness. You may recall that our then history with Orlando Pirates had survived twenty nine years of nerve-wrecking drama; one that had essentially carved a benchmark of the challenges and successes of the discipline of soccer in our country.
Like Israel therefore, our journey had been a true adventure of challenges and successes but one that had birthed a need to share one room, to galvanise our business thought and implement a common vision that is celebrated this day.
Of course, just like when the Ark of the Covenant of GOD had mediated between Israel’s pilgrimage from Egypt and guided their discourse into the promised land, our mediator took the form of VODACOM, a corporate friend that has been a muscular pillar of our thirteen years of development and growth. Whilst the two institutions of Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates had obviously qualified as trendsetters in our soccer scene, the partnership with VODACOM added another dynamic in both the business and the social paradigm of our sport.
It is for that reason and God’s favour that we are once more assembled to welcome and consolidate another episode of our sojourn through triumph and tribulation.
May I therefore stand humble before God and in your presence to express my thankfulness to the friendship between Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and VODACOM. I believe we have worked extremely hard in pursuance of the will to win; perhaps the one factor that motivated The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali to write;
“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world”.
There can thus never be any doubt that our deliberation carried some purpose whose fruit we continue to harvest beyond modern day football matches.
Counting the thirteen years in reverse, one may recall that the period 1999 was the year of our infant second Democratic elections that had ushered a new socio economic and political playground in all spheres of South Africa.
On the business side, we were still learning the new ropes given the context of a changing economy at that time. On the social side, communities were redefining themselves as liberated entities after many years of strife and toil.
Putting these two factors in juxtaposition, one immediately noticed that we were pressed in the business of football to reconsider our relationships beyond the allotted ninety minutes of enthralling friends and supporters in the pitch.
We were rather pressed to realign our jealously guarded individual brand pride to fit in the changing business and football landscape by thinking a strategic business relationship with a willing suitor like VODACOM.
It is therefore that out of that meeting in 1999, came a compelling and innovative business matrimonial union that has endured years of adventure and sired off-springs that benefitted the alliance. Whilst we were questioned on the serenity of our partnership, we were otherwise inspired by the desire to reimage our brands by redefining our role as beyond the measure of football to embrace a holistic responsibility towards the social welfare of our constituent supporters. More so we needed to break bounds and transcend limitations just to honour The Sutra of Patanjali’s wise words.
The need for South Africa to perceive of both Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs as strategic business partners thereafter emerged to carve a new route in our business. Of course this has not dampened the passion to outgun each other on the field; perhaps the single most ingredient that keeps our football fires burning throughout the seasons.
The Vodacom Challenge thus became a perfect vehicle that unified our supporters, caressed and pacified warring factions in politically trouble-torn communities. The province of Kwa Zulu Natal enjoyed peace when supporters buried their political aspirations to share and fill stadiums that hosted the event.
The competition also invited African countries into our shores and later ambitiously and successfully attracted the most senior and elite of European football teams into our shores.
Stadiums like the former Lucas Mangope in Mafikeng saw the entire North West community reconciled after many years of Apartheid’s lie of separate development.
The former isolated Eastern Cape hosted the tournament at the Eastern Cape Rugby Union Stadium that has now birthed the modern Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Cape Town in the Western Cape, and Loftus Versveld in Gauteng have since hosted the largest interracial audience that witnessed our clashes against the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur in recent times.
Throughout all the excitement, the alliance has moved into communities with serious Corporate Social Responsibility programmes that have reached deserving young and old.
Apart from the Vodacom Challenge, the alliance has commercially benefitted our supporters through the many on-and-off-the-field immediate and spontaneous sponsorship marketing opportunities.
As we acknowledge the reinvigoration of our sponsorship this morning, we are once more humbled by another opportunity to share the dream and the vision. We do so against the background of understanding our fragile economic landscape that seems to frequently bend when international markets are adversely affected.
We also do so against the background of understanding the challenges of job creation, the volatility of unstable communities and diverse socio-economic conditions that have potential to spiral into conflict at a flick of a finger.
Throughout all these and many other challenges, we are thankful that VODACOM can still invite our audience to continuously carve a way forward that has indeed qualified our course beyond football entertainment and fun.
We are thankful that it can dig deep in their reserves to find cause and reason that has sustained us as business partners even during tumultuous economic times of less profits and commercial non-performances. Whilst trophies and victories may often evade our wishes, we are however glad that VODACOM has stuck to its commitment of supporting our course.
May I therefore thank the Executive Representatives that have once more embraced our brands by renewing its (VODACOM)’s corporate sponsorship that will see us jointly enjoying the fruit of its labour and toil.
Whilst VODACOM may have shed its corporate blue and white image in favour of the red and white brand, we are thankful that it did not for once think of relegating the gold, white and black images of both Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates brands into its attic and archives.
We are however thankful that our matrimony is rising stronger by the day and may therefore endure the duration of its obligation to reach out to many communities whilst entertaining soccer-loving supporters throughout the country.
Our joint pursuit of success is emphasised in a statement by Jon Huntsman that reads;
“There are no moral shortcuts in the game of business – or life. There are basically three kinds of people; the unsuccessful, the temporarily successful, and those who become and remain successful. The difference is character.”
Looking into our history, it is quite easy to deduce that we have built our success through character more than any other ingredient.
I therefore believe that it is the same character that will ensure many years of our union as we attach our signatures on documents that bind us for more growth and blessings.
May I express my hearty thanks to Dr. Khoza and the entire Orlando Pirates family for the part he played in ensuring that the vision of the Vodacom Sponsorship becomes a reality.
May I also pay tribute to the memories of the departed Zodwa Khoza, who together with Emy and Vivian Cassaletti joined hands as a driving force through various stages of the journey and our Marketing Team led by Jessica Motaung.
I also thank the Kaizer Chiefs Executive Team and our Commercial Team led by Sajeed Sacaranie for dedicating time to secure our deal.
May I express a hearty thanks to Mr. Romeo Khumalo for astutely conducting proceedings and the entire VODACOM Team that also sat during negotiations. I truly believe that ours has indeed been a journey laced with adventure and success.
May our partnership remain strong and continue to challenge other institutions to reconsider their roles so that we could collectively as football show that our sport of millions is perhaps the best discipline in entertainment.
Kaizer Motaung (Mr.)