WFS Africa went out with a bang

Curtain comes down on hugely successful WFS Africa debut

· by WFS2017

WFS Africa’s maiden edition is now successfully in the books, after two days of fascinating discussion at Durban’s International Conference Centre (ICC). 

Over the course of the event, close to 800 attendees have enjoyed the possibility to network and make thousands of connections, helping accelerate opportunities that would normally take years to materialize. 

The honorable Siboniso Duma, MEC for Economic Development, Tourism & Environmental Affairs, KZN was responsible for kicking off the second day of the event, encouraging the audience to use World Football Summit as a lever for growth: “It gives us a pleasure to host the first-ever WFS Africa in Durban. Our province is open to the business of sports as well as recreational profiles. We feel blessed to partake in this journey with the WFS team. This Summit can be used to discuss sports business but also delve deep into issues affecting human society at large. This sport and game have a unique platform with a strong influence to reach millions. We must use it to play an active role in building our nations.”

Dr. Danny Jordaan, President of the South African Football Association (SAFA) and a key figure in bringing the FIFA World Cup to South Africa in 2010, reveals how he wants the continent to build on these events to drive football forward across Africa.

“We want Africa to convert its potential into reality but this can only be done if the continent taps and implements business ideas from the rest of the world and WFS provides such opportunities,” said Jordaan. 

“Talent-wise, Africa has shown that it is up there with the best but unless you transform your business model, the continent will continue to play catch up with the rest of the world. We need to move into the world of digitalization, technology, integration, and commercialization. These are all catalysts for the massive growth of the game.”

Dr. Jordaan also believes the next level of growth must involve women’s football: Since 2010, there has been tremendous progress for the South African women’s team. We hardly had women’s coaches before, but we took a decision to have women’s coaches to have every team. We were criticized about it – but we have seen how much improvement that change has brought.”

The common theme from the diverse range of high-profile speakers, who gave rallying calls for the African football industry to not be discouraged from showing the world the value that it brings to the table, was that the potential is massive.

Part of this growth undoubtedly involves the women’s game, where Brenda Kunda, Director at Bresmar Investment Ltd, had the following to say: “There needs to be a greater investment into building more resources like playing fields so that the Banyana Banyana don’t have to wait.

Just as networking was central to the two-day event, so was discussion around partnerships and sponsorship opportunities between businesses and football properties. 

As such, Meta was responsible for leading a panel on sponsorship, one of the pillars of the commercial marketing model of football clubs, where Kike Levy, Southern Sports Lead at Meta, urged football properties to embrace digital technology: “With traditional sponsorship, the value of the digital side is not normally considered. African football and sports clubs need to value these assets more. You have an infinite inventory of assets that you can sell when you look at the digital side. Digital will allow you to create different strategies for different audiences.”

LaLiga, one of the most innovative brands in the world of football and one of the truly global sports brands that have a presence across Africa, shared how sports properties can bridge the gap with African football thanks to content. Marcos Pelegrin, Managing Director at LaLiga Africa explained: “Fans relate to the reality they know. Localizing content allows us to deliver LaLiga in every corner of the continent and has proven to be the right strategy – we want to continue with the same.”

The curtain of the first-ever WFS Africa was closed by The Honourable Emmanuel Nkosinathi Mthethwa, Minister of Sports, Arts, and Culture who urged the audience to avoid letting the event be a one-off event, and rather, use it as a platform to enable long-term economic development across the region.

The experts agree the potential for the African football industry is massive, and now is the time to finally accelerate learning and business opportunities in the region to establish the foundations for growth.