Stanbic Bank Botswana has reaffirmed its commitment to sport development in Botswana with a three-year sponsorship deal with the Gem Diamonds Kalahari Challenge. The bank signed a P500.000 sponsorship deal with the mountain bike stage race organisers. The three-day event is schedule for 10-13 June 2016. Stanbic Bank will serve as the Gem Diamonds Kalahari Challenge’s presenting sponsor for three years commencing in 2016. It is the second year running that Stanbic has been part of the Gem Diamond Kalahari Challenge. Stanbic Bank Botswana CEO Leina Gabaraane said the bank has a responsibility to play in the communities they operate in, hence the partnership with Gem Diamonds Kalahari Challenge. Gabaraane said the sponsorship is meant to encourage the development of sporting codes such as cycling.
“We see sport as an important industry which can be used to boost our economy if it is well invested on,” he said. Gabaraane said cycling in Botswana has been growing tremendously in the past year and if more investment is put in it can grow further. He is of a view that the Gem Diamond Kalahari Challenge can help in this regard as it is an international event that attracts foreign athletes. Gabaraane called on more Batswana to engage in cycling as it does not only promote healthy living but it also boosts tourism. He urged on local drivers to be tolerant with cyclists on the road to avoid the growing number of accidents.The race director Seamus O’Neil hailed Stanbic Bank for its support. O’Neil said the race continues to grow every year and this is made possible by the support they continue to get from supporters such as Stanbic. He said currently the Gem Diamonds Kalahari Challenge is ranked in the top 10 stage races in Southern Africa.
“Our aim is to grow this race to be in the Top 3 and we cannot do this without the generous support we continue to get from Stanbic Bank. Their sponsorship enables us to provide quality race for the athletes,” said O’Neil. This year’s price money has increased from last year’s P85.000 to P125.000. Registration for the Gem Diamonds Kalahari Challenge has started with the closing date on 13th May 2016. O’Neil said a total of around 300 to 350 cyclists are expected to take part in the race. “Most of these cyclists come from Botswana while others are from countries such as South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe, said O’Neil. He said the Gem Diamond Kalahari challenge provide a very good terrain for riders hence its competitiveness.