At the eleventh hour, Vitality, title sponsor of this year’s Netball World Cup, has withdrawn as sponsor of the tournament set to be hosted at the Cape Town International Convention Center in South Africa for the first time ever from 28 July until 6 August 2023.
With the Netball World Cup less than three weeks away, Vitality, a subsidiary of Discovery Insurance, said in a statement that it was “unable to reach a mutually acceptable partnership” with World Netball.
Discovery will continue to act as sponsors of the South African national netball team as well as England – as title sponsor of the latter.
“[I]Our intention was to be the main sponsor of the 2023 Netball World Cup. Unfortunately, after negotiations, we were unable to reach a mutually acceptable partnership,” the statement read.
Discovery is therefore focusing its netball support on the national teams of South Africa and England, namely the Proteas and Vitality Roses.
“This is in line with the update from World Netball and Netball World Cup 2023 to announce Telkom and Spar as premium tournament partners sharing main billing, with a list of other major partners now joining.”
Vitality has long been a sponsor of netball in various capacities, including the Vitality Netball International Series.
“Discovery is committed to female sport in South Africa and beyond, and netball, through its partnership with the South African National Netball Team, as the Official Health Partner of Spar Proteas,” the statement continued.
“Sponsoring the national side will see Discovery support the team’s overall well-being through health and wellness, financial and nutrition resources over the next three years.”
When Vitality was announced as a title sponsor in February this year, Firoze Bhorat, Chief Marketing Officer at parent company Discovery Group, Vitality, said:
“Given the lack of equal sponsorship in sport, this is a deliberate indication of our support for women in sport.
“We believe that through the sport of netball, we will be able to inspire South African women and girls to live more active and healthy lives by playing the sport they love.”
Discovery will focus its attention on sponsoring legacy software in the country instead.
“As part of its commitment to netball, Discovery has developed and implemented the Netball Legacy Program to support grassroots netball in South Africa (much like the one within soccer), with the aim of donating over 10,000 netballs to schools in need over the next year. “.
The Netball Legacy Program will be at the forefront of our netball sponsorship priorities to ensure greater access to the sport and more opportunities within rural areas and underserved communities across the country.
“We wish the organizing committee, our national team and all the teams competing in the Netball World Cup 2023 every success for the tournament.”
Nerves Netball SA
The build-up to Africa’s first historic Netball World Cup has been tumultuous.
Last month, the head of Netball South Africa Cecilia Molokwane has been the subject of a series of complaints by the Afrikaans civil rights organization Afriforum.
Molokwane could not be reached for comment at the time of writing this article.
The Netball World Cup is currently touring all over the country. The Netball South African representatives as well as the ‘Letsatsi’ meerkat, the tournament’s official mascot, still wear costumes bearing the name of the previous sponsor, Vitality’s. DM