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Sanlam looking for Africa’s own Messis and Ronaldos

Barcelona's Lionel Messi (R) and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo fight for the ball during their Spanish first division soccer match at Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona, October 7, 2012. REUTERS/Albert Gea (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

Barcelona's Lionel Messi (R) and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo fight for the ball during their Spanish first division soccer match at Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona, October 7, 2012. REUTERS/Albert Gea (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

Published Jun 21, 2022

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Durban — Financial services group Sanlam is distributing 10 000 footballs to hundreds of schools across 18 countries in Africa as part of its initiative to help and inspire young people to realise their full potential.

The initiative is part of Sanlam’s socio-economic development goals which include helping schools improve numeracy, literacy support, and sports development.

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Sanlam group executive Sydney Mbhele said Africa’s human potential was unmatched and only young people could unlock it.

He said part of this campaign was inspired by the Africa Cup of Nations and the 2010 World Cup, which showed that football can bring joy, pride, empowerment and be a great source of team building.

“The benefits of getting young people into football are wide-ranging. Roughly 75% to 90% of doctor visits are stress-related and around 20% of teenagers in South Africa alone and worldwide suffer from anxiety, depression or some other mental health concern. Studies have repeatedly shown that sports greatly benefit one’s mood and ability to manage one’s mental health better,” said Mbhele.

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Knowing how to manage money is an important skill for young people in the sports industry who require almost the same commitment and discipline as financial management. Sanlam has a savings jar that helps teach the youth to learn savings habits early in their lives.

Sanlam is not only aiming at inspiring the future crop of sportsmen, as women’s football is also becoming increasingly popular. The company is therefore planning to open up opportunities for countless women all over the continent too.

According to Mbhele the Confederation of African Football has made the development of the women’s game a pillar of their development strategy.

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Mbhele said that as much as Sanlam wanted to pour into this initiative, young players needed to remember that education was still the most important breeding ground for their development.

He said that they had partnered with the University of Cape Town’s online high school to help improve access to high-quality digital education, and that is not the only initiative to ensures a prosperous future for aspirant soccer players. There was also the Blue Ladder Schools programme which focused on meeting the development needs of schools, and infrastructure.

“We have a massive population of incredibly talented young people who deserve the chance to live with confidence and compete in a global arena. As a group committed to empowering Africans to be financially confident, secure and prosperous, we believe sports training can foster critical skills – and, possibly, some striking careers! We look forward to watching these young people fly. The sky really is the limit,” Mbhele added.

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To get the ball rolling, Sanlam is set to distribute half of the 10 000 Live with Confidence Footballs across six provinces and 68 towns in South Africa.

The project will help 145 schools nationwide.

Sanlam is distributing the remaining 5 000 footballs to selected schools in more than 34 cities in 17 countries across Africa.

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