Namibia: Mboma and Masilingi's Star Power Grows

NAMIBIA'S star athletes Beatrice Masilingi and Christine Mboma have not only become stars on the tracks of the world - they have also grown their social media pulling power and are now associated with some of the top brands in the world.

For starters, the 18-year-old sensations recently struck deals with international sport brands Nike and Adidas, with Masilingi signing with the German sportswear giant, while Mboma partnered up with Nike.

This is in addition to a N$2 million dollar sponsorship deal for each athlete from telecommunications giant Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC), which was made official a day before the girls departed for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games a few months ago.

The MTC sponsorship deals last three years each, covering various needs.

With them being all over television and social media wearing Adidas or Nike, the golden girls have grown a considerable fan base over the past couple of months.

Mboma has over 44 000 followers on Instagram, with one of her pictures at the Olympics attracting 17 350 likes, while a video she has uploaded has garnered 55 935 views.

Masilingi has over 31 000 followers, and one of her videos has reached 12 644 views.

Mboma has a Twitter account with 4 700 followers, while Masilingi's Facebook account has over 12 000 followers.

Instagram remains the platform where they receive the most traffic in terms of views, likes and comments.

Masilingi recently told The Namibian it makes her happy to know people are interested in her journey.

"It really makes me happy to know there are people in the world who really want to know what I am up to, and how my journey is going," she said.

Masilingi said she only pays attention to positive things.

"I do not look at the negative side, because some people may follow me for the wrong reasons. I am really happy that my following is going up day by day. It shows there are people out there who are really supportive, and I really love that," she said.

The girls' agent, Bradley Agnew, says the spike in their social media following flows from the girls themselves, and is not part of a strategy.

"We are, however, building a strategy for going forward in various territories," he says.

Agnew says they have not had a huge impact in the commercial space yet and this is why a strategy would involve growing a following in various countries and cities across the world.

He says there is a strong interest from Namibian companies to partner up with the girls, but adds the only Namibian brand that has officially sponsored the girls is MTC.

The girls have received support from various Namibian companies in the form of gifts though.

Nictus Furnishers Namibia has announced that both Mboma and Masilingi would receive a queen-size bed, while Karibu Flowers, Namibia Wildlife Resorts and Yoni Day Spa have also offered gifts and services.

Agnew says the traction has thus far had a relatively low impact on the girls, since they have been busy.

"Now that they are off, they can interact with their followers. The plan going forward is to train them on media and social media, because fame comes with responsibility . . ," Agnew says.

Brand manager Kalistu Mukoroli says the girls have earned their star power, because they have used their talent to the best of their abilities.

"It showed the dedication they have for the sport . . . we have not seen something like this in Namibia in a very long time . . ," Mukoroli says.

He says the brands which partnered up with the girls are already reaping the rewards.

"When you go on social media or Google them, the brands associated with them will also pop up," he says.

He urges brands to start investing in and partnering up with the girls now.

MTC spokesperson Fikameni Mathias says MTC did not necessarily partner up with the girls for their social media traction.

"It is not about making people famous. We believe in sport development so that we can celebrate people as Namibians. Not to develop talents for MTC, but for the country," he says.

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