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10 000 Ways to Grow Africa’s Football Talent

9 June 2022

Africa’s largest non-banking financial services group, Sanlam, is distributing 10 000 footballs to 100s of schools across 18 countries in Africa.

The initiative forms part of the company’s purpose of helping the people of the continent live with confidence, in this case through socio-economic development.

Sydney Mbhele, Group Executive: Brand at Sanlam, says, “Africa’s untapped human potential is immense and a massive part of unlocking it comes from inspiring our young people to realise their full potential. To that end, we are donating 10 000 Sanlam soccer balls to young footballers across Africa. If the Africa Cup of Nations and the 2010 World Cup taught us anything, it is that football can be a catalyst for joy, team building, pride and empowerment.”

A Healthy Habit

In many ways, being able to live with financial confidence and excelling at any sport require the same skill set. Both require discipline, diligence and commitment. Managing your money effectively is a skill that requires constant practise. If you ask the world’s best footballers which one activity they do every single day, they would likely say they practise.

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.

As the most popular sport in the world, football’s benefits are not only physical. Football world cups routinely generate billions of dollars in revenue for their host nations and the people who live in them. More importantly, they give talented young people from vulnerable backgrounds a way to transcend those circumstances. Those people often then reinvest in the communities they came from. Most recently, Liverpool fan favourite, Sadio Mané, donated over $600,000 (almost R10 million) to help build a hospital in the village he grew up in.

Getting the Ball Rolling

To contribute towards producing the continent’s next crop of ‘Manés’, Sanlam is distributing half of the 10 000 Live with Confidence footballs across six provinces and 68 towns in South Africa. The project encompasses 145 schools nationwide. Sanlam is distributing the remaining 5 000 footballs to selected schools in more than 34 cities in 17 countries across Africa. The initiative forms part of Sanlam’s socio-economic development goals, which include helping schools improve numeracy, literacy support, and sports development.

Inspiring Future Legends

Schools are an important breeding ground for the development of our local football talent but they are not the only one. Through an array of different initiatives, Sanlam is doing its part to help usher in a prosperous future. For example, through the Sanlam Savings Jar, we are helping capacitate the youth to learn savings habits early in their lives. Through a partnership with the UCT Online High School, Sanlam is helping improve access to high quality digital education while the Blue Ladder Schools programme focuses on meeting the education, infrastructure and development needs of schools.

Delivering 10 000 footballs is not just about inspiring the future crop of sportsmen. Women’s football is becoming increasingly popular and as it does, it is opening up a raft of opportunities for countless women all over the continent. So much so that the Confederation of African Football has made the development of the women’s game a pillar of their development strategy in the coming years. As such, Sanlam’s initiative is just as geared towards encouraging the development of the next generation of ‘Portia Modises’ as it is ‘Benni McCarthys’.

Mbhele concludes, “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.”

Sanlam Life Insurance is a licensed financial service provider.
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