HIGHLANDERS players will have a memorable festive season after the club’s principal sponsor Sakunda Holdings announced a 250% year-end bonus that will also cover the club’s staff members.
According to Sakunda Holdings’ projects manager Nqobile Magwizi, the windfall is a reward “to celebrate the efforts made by the team this season.
Highlanders finished the season on fifth position with 51 points, a massive 24 points from champions FC Platinum.
This is despite the fact that they were also knocked out of the Chibuku Super Cup by Bulawayo Chiefs at the quarterfinal stage.
“This year Highlanders Football Club will be receiving a 250% bonus just to celebrate the efforts made by the players and staff members this season,” Magwizi said on behalf of the company’s boss Kudakwashe Tagwirei.
“Given where the club was at the beginning of the season and finishing at number five, it calls for a celebration. As Sakunda, we are not worried about the final result but the process, efforts and commitment of both the players and management. We want to recognise this effort and commitment through bonuses which will be paid out before the festive season.”
Highlanders had a bad start to the season, which cost coach Mandla Mpofu’s job midway through the campaign and was replaced by Baltemar Brito who managed to improve the fortunes of the club.
With the Portuguese in charge, there is optimism within the Highlanders ranks that the team could challenge for honours next season.
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Magwizi and his team from Sakunda met with the Highlanders leadership in Bulawayo on Sunday where they made the bonus pledge.
They also toured the Highlanders Sports Club and Hotel California, a house in Luveve suburb belonging to the club, which if refurbished, will be used as a camping facility for the players.
The house, acquired in 1985, has been lying idle. Sakunda Holdings has also pledged to refurbish the facility as well as giving the club offices along Robert Mugabe Way in Bulawayo, a facelift.
Highlanders chief executive officer, Ronald Moyo yesterday confirmed the meeting with Sakunda management which was also attended by players representatives.
He paid tribute to the energy giant for bankrolling the club since last year.
“Sakunda announced a 250% increment to our monthly budget that is a provision to cover bonuses for Highlanders players and staff. It is a once-off increment. We are happy that the sponsors continue to make provisions to assist the club even though it is outside the original sponsors’ contract,” Moyo said.
“We are even more thankful that the approach towards capacity building which speaks to the club’s long-term plans to be self-sustainable,” he said.
Besides meeting their contractual obligations with Highlanders which include paying players’ salaries, Sakunda Holdings have gone further by sponsoring a four-day capacity building workshop for the club in Victoria Falls as well as sponsoring a 10-day landmark trip to Europe last month for executive members aimed at equipping them with the required expertise of running a modern-day football club.
In Europe, the four-member delegation visited Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, Manchester United and academies in Belgium where they met club officials.
Sakunda last year unveiled a record US$5,3 million for Highlanders and Dynamos in which each club was allocated US$450 000 to cover salaries for each season over three years. The two clubs also received a special bonus for participating in the Independence Trophy which saw players and officials each receiving a flat US$600. Some former players from the two clubs have since received houses from Sakunda.
It was not clear yesterday if the year-end bonus gesture will also be extended to Dynamos who finished above Highlanders on the log standings.
The Harare giants who started the season on fire, lost steam in the final stages of the season and were beaten to the title by FC Platinum. They eventually finished third.
Their executive members are also yet to embark on the tour of Europe as promised to them by Sakunda Holdings more than six months ago.
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