Friday, November 13, 2009

They are now known as Bingu Tigresses

The Bingu Tigresses pose with their new sponsor, Ngwazi Dr Bingu wa Mutharika. Pic by Emmanuel Simpolokolwe, Guardian Newspapers.

By Lucy Liponda

Malawi President Ngwazi Dr Bingu wa Mutharika on Friday surprised many sports loving Malawians when he announced he was now the official sponsor of the cash-strapped Tigresses netball team.

Following the President’s announcement, Tigga, as the netball team is popularly known in Malawi, announced they would now be known as Bingu Tigresses.

The team, has been without sponsorship for over three years now following the withdraw of sponsorship by the Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc).

The team got a surprise invitation from the State President on Thursday to visit him at the New State House in the administrative capital, Lilongwe on Friday. The Tiggas are based in the commercial city, Blantyre.

Friday morning, the Tigresses were there smartly dressed in their cream blouses and black trousers.

They were accompanied by their chairperson Hellen Mpinganjira and their coach player, Peace Chawinga.

They went into a two honour private discussions with the State President and we, members of the press, were left out from the closed door discussions.

After the discussions, they emerged with anxiety waiting what was in store for them from the State President.

The news was not rushed; they were invited to a VVIP luncheon with the State President.

They ate with Malawi’s citizen number one and as they were expecting a dissert after the meal, they were told to hold on.

There was a big dissert waiting for them.

A member of staff for State Residences brought an envelope to the State President who calmly opened it before bringing out the surprise.

State President Ngwazi Dr Bingu wa Mutharika announced he was now the official sponsor of Tigresses.

To show his strength as a new sponsor, he brought from the envelope a MK10 million cheque donation to Tigresses, gave the team a brand new bus for use by the club and each player was given MK100, 000.00 cash.

The female players did not hesitate but explode into a chorus of a religious song, Taliwona dzanja la Ambuye, Taliwona dzanja la Ambuye.

Ngwazi Dr Bingu wa Mutharika joined the netballers in singing.

Speeches were made, where the State President said that he was doing this because during this year’s independence celebrations, he was impressed in the way Tigresses played.

He said he was however, shocked to hear that the team that had so much talent had no sponsorship and that it was at the verge of extinct, hence the Presidential rescue.

The team’s official Hellen Mpinganjira was over the moon and in her vote of thanks to the State President, she announced to the nation; “From today onwards, we will be known as ''Bingu Tigresses.”

They cheered and ululated and went outside the magnificent New State House building for pictures with their new sponsor.

After the picture shoots, they broke into another chorus of Ingoma dance where the State President joined the dance joyfully.

That marked the end poverty for Tigresses who are now Bingu Tigresses. They had within hours changed from a cash-strapped netball club into one of the richest in Malawi-Malawi Digest.

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