By Nemuel Ondima
Absa Bank Kenya PLC has announced a KES75 million sponsorship for this year’s Magical Kenya Open (MKO) Golf Tournament.
The 2020 MKO, part of the European Tour, is scheduled to take place between March 12 and March 15 at the Karen Country Club and is expected to attract an even larger number of global professional as well as Kenyan players.
The sponsorship announcement by Absa Bank Kenya is part of an ongoing KES150 million sponsorship that was announced by Absa Group last year as the presenting sponsor. It also marks the 10th anniversary of the bank’s sponsorship for Kenya Open, a period characterised by progressive development and greater appreciation of golf among ordinary Kenyans. Over the same period, Kenya Open has grown from a little-known tournament into a first-rate tournament that is now part of the prestigious European tour.
Speaking during the sponsorship announcement, Absa Bank Kenya Managing Director Jeremy Awori said, “Over the past 10 years, we have walked hand in hand with the Kenya Open Golf Limited to grow the profile and stature of the Kenya Open tournament, transforming it into a great asset, not just for the golfing fraternity but also for the country. As a result, Kenya Open is now one of the biggest sporting events in sub-Saharan Africa and has contributed immensely to the promotion of Kenya as a global golfing and sports tourism destination and we are looking forward to this year’s tournament.”
In addition to this sponsorship, Absa Bank has further committed to reward the top five Kenyan pros who will be participating in the tournament, each receiving sponsorship worth KES250, 000. Any of the Absa-sponsored Kenyan golfers who make it to the top 20 after the first two rounds in the 2020 MKO will take home KES 500, 000, while those who make it to the top ten after the final round of the tournament will receive an additional token of KES1 million each.
The packages for the Kenyan pros were announced in November last year when the bank committed to sponsor nine Kenyan pros and one amateur to successfully participate in the just-concluded Safari Tour series. The benefitting pros include the Professional Golfers of Kenya captain C.J Wangai, Eric Ooko, Riz Charania, Simon Ngige, Kopan Timbe, David Wakhu, Jastas Madoya, Mohit Mediratta, and the youngest Kenyan pro, Mathew Wahome.
Apart from the Pros sponsorship throughout the Safari Tours, the bank has also organised several junior golfers’ clinics to mentor upcoming golfers through interactions with top professionals in a bid to cultivate interest in the sport among the youth and to grow their talent.
“As a brand, we believe in connecting people’s dreams to the financial resources they need to achieve their aspirations, which is in line with our brand purpose of bringing possibilities to life,” Mr Awori said. “Our engagement with KOGL is rooted on a mutual agenda of expanding the opportunities available in the golfing arena. We believe that such growth will in return reflect on the performance of the economy.”
Speaking at the event, Kenya Open Golf Limited (KOGL) Deputy Tournament Director, Francis Okwara, said; “Absa Bank Kenya remains a pivotal partner for the Magical Kenya Open; their continued support is a clear indication of their commitment to the growth and development of the sport of golf in the country. As the bank embarks on its growth agenda under the new brand, it is our belief that we will continue working together to
Make the tournament an even bigger attraction.”
The Kenya Open, first played in 1967 and has grown to become one of Kenya’s most important event on the sporting calendar. The Kenya Open now forms an integral part of the European Tour and attracts top golfers from across the globe. Last year, 22-year old Italy’s Guido Migliozzi won the tournament receiving Euros 183,330 (Sh.20.5 million) as the tournament’s winner while all pros who finished in the top ten took home at least Sh2.5 million each.
On his part, KOGL Chairman, Peter Kanyago, lauded Absa for its continued support of the Kenya Open through the years; adding that he looks forward to a deepened partnership. “We are cognizant that to reach where we are today would not have been possible without the gracious support of partners and sponsors such as Absa Bank Kenya. We are truly grateful to Jeremy and the entire team at Absa for the support they have continued to accord us through the years and look forward to a greater engagement going into the future,” he said.