Makos in bold scheme for funds

CLAY WILSON
Last updated 12:00 10/04/2014
Great Taste Trail.
ALDEN WILLIAMS
INSIDE THE HUDDLE : A unique new scheme from the Tasman Rugby Union offers the chance to hear from Makos coach Kieran Keane just moments after he has given his pre-game team talk for an ITM Cup match.

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A rare chance to be involved in the buildup to a Tasman Makos ITM Cup match is part of an innovative concept being launched by the Tasman Rugby Union this week.

Designed to give small businesses throughout Marlborough and Nelson an opportunity to support the region's flagship team, the Makos 500 Club is one of two major undertakings from the TRU to help fund the Makos and ensure that they remain competitive as they step up to the premiership division of this year's national provincial championship.

TRU chief executive Tony Lewis said they had an annual bill of $850,000 from the New Zealand Rugby Union for Makos wages and, along with taking on a Marlborough-based commercial manager, the 500 Club was a key part of their strategy to make sure they reached that figure.

"The idea of the concept is to give small businesses a way to financially support the local team, in this case being the Tasman Makos . . . it gives companies that entry level of sponsorship, where they don't have to go to a national manager to ask if they can do it. They can sign up and there [are] a lot of benefits to that sponsorship and from our perspective it's starting to develop a base of sponsors."

Businesses receive several benefits for an investment of $500 plus GST, including 20 seated tickets during the regular season, an exclusive "inside the Makos" weekly newsletter, Makos 500 Club apparel and entry into a draw to win an end-of-season Mondo Travel trip for two to Rarotonga.

However, perhaps the most interesting benefit to taking up this new offer is an invitation to attend two match-day networking events in Blenheim and Nelson. Businesses are not only provided complimentary food and drink and the chance to network with other companies, they will also be given a rare insight into the Makos' pre-match preparation by head coach Kieran Keane.

"Straight after Kieran's been talking to the team to get them on their way he will come in and speak to the 500 club members about what he's trying to achieve in the game and what's going on . . . it will be the type of speech he has given to the team to try and motivate them. I think it's pretty unique to have the coach coming in to address you straight after he's done the team-talk."

While it is being targeted at small businesses, individuals are also able to take advantage of the benefits on offer and Lewis said their target was to gain 500 members.

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"The concept was being launched in Marlborough first, mainly because the TRU needed to increase Marlborough's overall sponsorship contribution this year, something they were having plenty of success with.

Because of a lot of good work from new Marlborough commercial manager Marty Vercoe, Lewis said they had achieved a 40 per cent increase in Marlborough sponsorship from the $83,000 contributed last year. That put Marlborough's overall contribution up from 13 per cent to nearly 20 per cent and Lewis said it was one of several areas of the business where they were well ahead of schedule in.

Meanwhile, halfback Mark Swanepoel will not be returning to be part of the Makos squad this season after he and the TRU mutually agreed to end his two-year contract after one year. That brings the number of contracted players back to 20 and leaves around 10 places still up for grabs.

Those interested in becoming part of the Makos 500 Club or wanting more information can phone Marty Vercoe at the TRU Marlborough office on (03) 5784070 or email info@makos.co.nz

- Nelson

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