Nestle Lanka PLC AVP Corporate Affairs and Communications Bandula Egodage says that Milo’s focus has been working at grassroots level in sport (Pic by Kelum C Nelumdeniya)

Nestle Lanka PLC AVP Corporate Affairs and Communications Bandula Egodage has seen the recognition given to sportsmen and women through awarding colours grow alongside its brand Milo

As Sri Lanka’s budding sportsmen and women get ready for the annual schools colours awards ceremony, the event’s sponsor Milo (Nestle Lanka PLC) looks back with contentment over the supportive role it has played for the past 24 years.

Milo has put its caring arm around children involved in various disciplines throughout the country, more with zest than being hungry to grab a large share of the sports market. Nestle Lanka PLC AVP Corporate Affairs and Communications Bandula Egodage told Nation in an exclusive interview that the long journey in the sports field was possible because Nestle Lanka PLC has a consistent and solid plan.

The company’s chocolate malt drink (Milo) was snapped up by the country’s sportsmen and women when it hit the market. The country’s cricket captain Angelo Mathews coming on board to promote the product in a television commercial suggests that Nestle wants every sportsmen and women to start the day with a Milo. But the company’s vision on nutrition goes much deeper than what benefits propaganda can bring. “Our products are all about the use of credible ingredients. We don’t force anybody to take them. But we are focused on promoting an active lifestyle and the ideology that people should have the right balance, both mentally and physically,” said Egodage.

Milo tied up with the Ministry of Education back in 1994 when it got involved as the sponsor for the first ever schools’ colours awards ceremony. According to Egodage the event was the brainchild of former Deputy Director General of Sports Sunil Jayaweera who is back again in the sports scene as Consultant –Sports & Physical Education, Ministry of Education. Egodage said he was delighted to see the involvement of Jayaweera in the upcoming colours awards ceremony, scheduled to be held on June 10 at the BMICH.
As Milo went on to build its brand name in sport, its officials realized that the country’s sportsmen and women also needed the right recognition. They didn’t have to think twice when the invitation was extended to them to come on board as sponsor of this mega sporting event.

However, despite sharing the podium with athletes associated with winning at sport, Milo has found contentment and purpose in promoting sports events at the grassroots level. Egodage said that the company doesn’t have the intention of backing champions as individuals, but works on ‘fuelling the winning spirit’-the company’s much quoted catch phrase.

Egodage believes that sport in Sri Lanka has evolved over the years. Asked why Nestle, despite having a wide ranging nutrition-filled basket of products, hasn’t thought of putting out a sports supplement, Egodage had this to say, “Well, a product in the form of a supplement is not in the pipeline, not for the moment”. He added that Nestle promotes the idea of ‘having an active lifestyle’ among the citizens of the country. Sports critics have since late begun to air the view that Nestle should think of putting out a product to cater to the hardcore athlete whose training is focused on serious competition.
Milo’s role in sport has been that of a mother watching the welfare of her children who are growing. According to Egodage, the company doesn’t bid for sponsorship slots and doesn’t compete against companies interested in the same sports events, like it is. Egodage told this scribe that he would be happy to see in the newspaper a large picture, capturing sports action, which displays the spirit of sport. “If there is a glimpse of our brand name in the picture, it would be a bonus for us,” he said with a smile.