Marketing her way to international stage

2011-11-19 16:21

After earning her spurs as a marketer of note in local football, Emy Casaletti-Bwalya is now making waves on the international scene.

She is now a Fifa instructor and travels the world helping football associations with administration, management, marketing and communication.

“It is such a fulfilling job. I have travelled to countries like Myanmar, Cambodia, Liberia, Jordan, Iran, Malawi and Tanzania,” she enthuses.

Casaletti-Bwalya is one of the instructors in charge of the world football body’s Member Association Performance Programme.

According to her, the programme’s main goal is “to bring all Fifa member associations to the same level of professionalism”.

Fifa has 208 recognised member associations.

For her, the most touching story has been Myanmar.

“The first time I went there, my perceptions of the country were tainted by negative media reports,” she said. “We arrived just a few months after the devastating Nargis cyclone where more than 300?000 people died.”

But she was amazed to “find a strong and resilient people filled with the will to succeed and united by the tragedy.”

In her report following the trip, she sang the praises of the Myanmar Football Federation president, Zaw Zaw, referring to him as “Lewis Hamilton (McLaren F1 driver) of football associations. You (Zaw) started driving a cart, now you’re driving a very fast Ferrari and winning races.”

Casaletti-Bwalya’s praise was generated by the fact that the federation had grown from zero – when football was almost non-existent at the beginning of the year – to establish the Myanmar National League.

This is Myanmar’s first professional football league and boasts players from nations such as Ghana, Argentina, Cameroon and Ivory Coast, she said.

Casaletti-Bwalya and her performance programme team helped the federation handle broadcast rights’ negotiations and league games are now televised live.

She regaled City Press with anecdotes such as when she went to help the Iran Football Association earlier this year.

She said, chuckling: “During the presentation, I had to address an auditorium full of men who could not look me in the eye due to their culture.

The worst was to come as I had to get government permission to go to the stadium to watch a soccer match. There I was, the only woman in a crowd of 40 000 men.”

She has asked Fifa not to send her to Iran again after two visits.

Casaletti-Bwalya is married to Kalusha Bwalya, who is president of the Football Association of Zambia, a member of the Caf executive committee and a former international football player of note. Bwalya is the only player from southern Africa to have won the African Footballer of the Year award.

Her relationship with SA football dates back to 1983 when, as marketing manager for Italian sportswear giant Kappa, she forged a strong relationship with Mamelodi Sundowns as kit sponsor.

She later cultivated strong ties with Kaizer Chiefs, the rugby club Natal Sharks and worked for the hospitality company Sail.

From its inception in 1999 until 2005, she was tournament director for the Vodacom Challenge and later joined the South African 2010 Local Organising Committee as director of marketing.

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