Highlanders announced a three-year partnership deal with their new technical sponsor, England-based sportswear provider On The Ball (OTB) in a colourful ceremony which was held at a local hotel on Friday.
The occasion was graced by local companies such as Ingwebu, Arenel, Sanctuary Insurance, Nokel Security, United Refineries Limited and Genstom Global Mining Supplies who supported the kit launch.
The deal is worth US$100 000 per year and will see the club getting playing, training and travelling kit as well as replicas.
Every year new designs will be produced based on Highlanders’ recommendations.
OTB takes over from Roar, who were brought on board when the club was sponsored by mobile network operator NetOne. Roar, however, failed to deliver replicas and Highlanders went for three years without generating any revenue from replica sales.
The deal with OTB was meant to start at the beginning of the 2020 season and is subject to renewal.
The first batch of 3 000 replicas, including women’s and children’s cuts, should be available at distribution centres in three weeks’ time. Those in the diaspora can purchase them online, with shipment direct from the manufacturer.
Another set of replicas that include golf shirts will land before the end of the first batch.
Bosso unveiled four sets of playing kit compromising a short and long-sleeved traditional zebra-striped, an all-black and all-white jerseys, which they can alternate with black or white shorts.
The deal also comes with four sets of training kit, made up of neon, orange, red and peppermint green tops, accompanied by black shorts.
The peppermint training top, which looks bluish, has already raised debate in social media circles, with the club’s followers associating the colour with perennial rivals Dynamos.
The training kit will also be used for warm-ups.
A travelling kit, which the technical team will also wear on the bench, consists of white golf shirts with a splash of grey as well as black golf tops. The tops can either be worn with black tracksuit pants or black shorts.
Highlanders chief executive officer Nhlanhla Dube said they are excited with the deal, as it will generate revenue for the club.
Unlike most technical deals where the club first pays for a certain number of replicas before getting technical kits, Dube revealed that OTB are advancing replicas and will recoup their costs after sales, leaving Bosso with profits.
“This deal was meant to coincide with the start of the 2020 season because we concluded this deal at the beginning of the year. The kits were supposed to get here in April, but because of Covid-19, it only got to be shipped out of China around August,” said Dube.
“There will also be padded jackets and tracksuits for winter and to us, this is a good deal in the sense that we didn’t buy replicas to get a technical kit. We didn’t finance anything, but got replicas which we’ll pay for on a shared profit basis. When we make money, and a time when we can take over financing products, we’ll go for it,” he said.
He said they will control sales and will record the number of replicas sold, making it easy to entice future technical partners.
Highlanders and OTB will also embark on limited versions of replica shirts, with fans getting involved in voting for the limited shirts that the technical sponsor will avail.
“Exciting times are coming and fans will get to vote for the limited editions of designs they want regenerated. It might be those that Madinda Ndlovu’s generation wore or that of the late Titus Majola or even that of the turn of the millennium led by Thulani ‘Biya’ Ncube. All that is meant to generate fan involvement as well as revenue for the club,” he said.
OTB representative Peter Chiveso said his company hopes to lure more local teams after partnering Highlanders and Dynamos.
He said replicas prices will be determined by the landing cost.
“We will try to strike a good balance in price and quality. When the replicas are here, that is when we will come up with the price. They are going to be affordable, but that doesn’t mean that they will be too cheap,” Chiveso said.
Highlanders chairman Kenneth Mhlophe hopes the OTB deal will yield results for Bosso.
“Today is a culmination of a process and the beginning of what we hope will be an exciting time for our club and OTB. I would like to thank OTB for the confidence they have shown in our club brand and market. The kits we have seen today give the confidence that the relationship that has been ignited will certainly set us apart in more ways than one,” Mhlophe said.
“While the 2020 shirt branding was occupied by NetOne; to whom we are particularly grateful for the support and sponsorship over the past few years, the playing kit chest branding space will be available to new partners going into 2021.”