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19.07.2005 Football News

PONY wants to kit national team

Nathaniel Attoh (Greaphic)

Representatives of PONY,an American Sports Kit manufacturing company,are in town and have submitted a proposal to the GFA in the hope of striking a possible five-year deal with the senior national team,the Black Stars.

The company which has been in existence since the mid sixties has extended its services to 135 countries,some of which are in Asia and America.It is also a subsidiary of Global Brand Marketing Incoporated (GBMI), that markets other big brands like Sparlding Tommy Hilfiger, Diesel, Mecca and Nautica.

The main advertising focus of Pony will be to project the Black Stars and individual players just like Nike does for Brazil and Puma for Cameroun.

This was disclosed to the Graphic Sports in an interview by Mr Charles Kashema,Promotions Manager of Pony International.

'I do not understand why people cannot obtain replica Black Stars jerseys of Michael Essien,for instance,in other countries',Mr Kashema said.

Should the FA agree and sign the five year contract, all the four other national football teams, the Black Queens, the Meteors,Satellites and Starlets will be kitted by Pony.

Two clubs in the GT premiership will also be signed on, considering the passion Ghanaians have for football.Pony also intends to spread its wings to cover the national tennis team, the Golden Rackets, if given the nod by the FA.

Apart from these,a representative will always be with any of the teams when they have international assigments to provide for any emergencies.

Contained in the proposal is also the arrangement of two friendlies annually for the team which will be fully sponsored by Pony.

Another benefit the Stars stand to gain is a website for the team which will be designed by Pony in addition to the customized merchandise which will be marketed internationally.

'We are willing to sign the five-year contract with the Stars whether or not they qualify for the 2006 World Cup, despite the fact that it is a big risk', the Pony Promotions Manager disclosed.

According to him, work on the proposoal will begin immediately, and samples of the team's jerseys will be flown in within ten days,provided the FA appends their signature to the five-year deal.

Among their current kit sponsorship contract are the Beninois Youth team that participated in the recently-ended World Youth Cup in Holland and Dutch premiership side, Feyenoord, beginning from 2007.They also sponsor newly-signed Juventus defender,Patrick Viera, and Gary Neville of Manchester United.

According to Mr Kashema,his outfit was encouraged by IFAP Sport to come to Africa. IFAP has been in Africa for two years and has been working closely with CAF.

They sold the television, advertising and marketing rights for the recently-ended African Under-17 tournament in the Gambia.

The relatvely unknown brand in Ghana has a reasonably good track record after kitting French Ligue 1 club, Paris Saint Germain (PSG) between 1980-1983 and the legendary Pele of Brazil who wore Pony boots while playing for Cosmos in the 70s.

Muhammed Ali also wore Pony sneakers when he fought George Foreman in Kinsasha,Congo DR (then Zaire) in 'the rumble of the jungle'.They also sponsored American heavyweight boxer, James Toney, former American NBA players like Bob McAdoo (LA Lakers),Darryl Dawkins (Philadelphia 76ers) and Spud Webb (Sixers) between the late seventies and early eighties.

In short,Pony have laid their cards on the table and want to have the Black Stars as their main focus in terms of advertising and marketing and are waitng for a response from the GFA.

Black Stars management committee chairman,Mr Fred Pappoe, in a separate interview confirmed the FA's reciept of the proposal.He,however,hinted that they are yet to make an assessment