Women’s sport has many stories of financial sacrifices made by athletes, about the struggle to get funding and the lack of sponsorship etc. But as always there are people out there making a difference, our ‘unsung heroes’.
Andrew Pindar is a man with a vision and a belief in sport and in particular women’s sport, having sponsored and supported female athletes for thirty years. He is an incredibly humble man when we talk about the athletes he has supported over the years - but as he lists them you realise that these aren’t just local athletes but world-class athletes, medal winners, record breakers and gold medal winning Olympians. Anna Hemmings, marathon canoeist and x6 World Champion, 2x silver world championships; Hannah Mills, x4 World and 1x European champion, 1x world and 2x European silver, and 2012 Olympic silver; Hilary Lister, record-breaking quadriplegic sailor; Jo Royle, trans-ocean sailing skipper; Anna Tunnicliffe, Olympic Gold, twice World champion, two-times ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year, ODU Sports Hall of Fame; Helena Darvelid, with 16 world sailing records; Michela Von Kessel……. What an incredible set of women to have supported in their sporting journeys! And not only did he support them, but he saw something in them that made him sponsor them - and this is part of the remarkable story that Andrew has.
The interesting thing about Andrew is that despite his humility about what he has done over the years and the magnitude thereof he is very, very clear on the business side of sponsorship. So many people I talk to down play sponsorship, saying that they do it with a charitable view and some even say it’s to reduce tax liabilities. It’s refreshing to hear someone talk sofrankly and openly about why they sponsor athletes. “It’s not a selfless act, sponsorship isn’t philanthropic,” he says and continues to expand on this, explaining that yes, it’s about athletes achieving their goals, but it’s also about the sponsor achieving theirs. “There should be symbiosis, it should be a transparent relationship where both parties balance the needs of the relationship,” Andrew explained.
This may not be a unique view but it certainly is a rare one to hear of in women’s sport where large amounts are spent on sponsorship but where an outcome is required. In Andrew’s view sponsorship should be for the benefit of both parties. This being a business relationship was for me one of the key areas Andrew spoke of: he isn’t interested in simply throwing money at the athletes, he wants to work with them and bring out the best of them whilst getting the athletes to see that he needs something back as well, with the sponsor and the athletes working together to ensure that this happens in a ‘transparent way,’ as he put it. This isn’t about both sides potentially falling out due to lack of communication; everything is in the open and up front.
Andrew Pindar is a businessmanwith a vision and strategy for sponsoring women that should be replicated across other businesses and sports to allow both business and sport to benefit together in a productive and supportive relationship. He has put his money where his mouth is (as the saying goes) and as a result has had a significant impact on the world of female sailing. A true unsung hero.