Nike South Africa have signed a five-year partnership with the country’s leading football team, Kaizer Chiefs to become the team’s official technical sponsors starting with the 2001/2002 season. This was announced at a launch at Helderfontein Estates in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

The five-year partnership involves a commitment (1) to design and manufacture performance-enhancing product – apparel, footwear and equipment – (2) to market the team and (3) to explore mutual opportunities to develop soccer in South Africa.

The product package, in a new look blend of the famous black & gold, features a lightweight fabric in Nike’s proprietary Dri-FIT technology, with moisture management properties which keeps the players dry and cool in warm conditions , perfect for the South African climate.

In their six-year history in South Africa, Nike has been committed to soccer through partnerships with several of the country’s premier soccer players, including, Linda Buthelezi and Sizwe Motaung – Nike’s first sponsored soccer players in SA in 1995; Leeds & Bafana Bafana captain, Lucas Radebe; Celta Vigo and Bafana Bafana’s Benni McCarthy and, until 2000, with PSL teams Moroka Swallows and Amazulu.

Nike, through the Nike Cares Trust, has also invested over R10 million in soccer development initiatives such as the prestigious Nike Premier Cup international youth tournament and the R2 million Chris Hani Sport Complex in Orange Farm.

Co-incidentally, both Nike and Kaizer Chiefs were established around the same time – in the early 1970’s.

In welcoming Kaizer Chiefs to the Nike family of great teams, Nike’s Executive Director of Marketing, Thebeetsile Ikalafeng, commented; “We are excited to start a partnership with arguably Africa’s biggest soccer team. For us there is a natural fit between Nike and Kaizer Chiefs. They reflect our brand’s irreverence, youthfulness and competitiveness. More than anything else, they play our kind of brilliant football.”

Ikalafeng added that what Nike brings to the partnership is innovation in product development and a unique marketing that reflect Kaizer Chief’s’ fans passion for their team. This re-enforces their position as a bona fide premier African brand, and one of the World’s famous soccer teams.

In his speech, Kaizer Chief’s founder Chairman, Kaizer Motaung said: “Kaizer Chiefs prides itself on being the biggest sporting brand in the country. One of our long-term objectives is to become a truly global brand. Forming a partnership with Nike, and their reputation for bringing unmatched technology to sports kit and innovative marketing, takes us a step closer to our goals.”

“The Nike brand associates itself with winners. When you think Figo, Ronaldo, Brazil, Barcelona, Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan – these names are synonymous with success and Nike. The ‘Just do it’ slogan is both motivational and inspirational and complements our famous ‘Love and Peace’ positioning. We look forward to a solid, successful partnership of two complementary brands,” Motaung added.

At a joint soccer/rugby launch – a South African first, Nike also unveiled the Springboks new product range for their 2001/2002 Vodacom Tri Nations & Vodacom International Tours campaign, and re-iterated their commitment to the national team through to the Rugby World Cup in 2003.