Honolulu, HAWAII — To many people, Roger Federer is known as the best tennis player in the world. He has won 20 grand slam titles and was the first player from Switzerland to take the number-one spot in singles. However, in 2003, he made a new name for himself as an advocate for education by creating the Roger Federer Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to “Providing a strong educational foundation for underprivileged children and their families — a foundation which can serve as a springboard to a better life.”
Globally, 244 million children do not have access to education, with 39% impoverished.
According to Child Fund in 2023, there is a correlation between education and poverty because when education decreases, the skills of writing, reading, and math taught in school also decrease. Thus a child’s ability to get a stable job is hindered, and they end up in poverty.
While the Roger Federer Foundation has done many projects to get children educated, such as creating “natural school playgrounds” and coaching parents to prepare for kindergarten, one of its most significant projects is the Match for Africa. The Match for Africa is a series of matches between Federer and other high-profile tennis players like Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray meant to bring attention to the continent and its needs.
Overall the Match for Africa was very successful, using talented celebrities to win over one million dollars per match for the Roger Federer Foundation. The fifth Match for Africa match alone raised 2.5 million dollars. Federer, Bill Gates, Savannah Guthrie, and Jack Sock were present.
Additionally, the sixth match between Federer, Nadal, Trevor Noah, and Bill Gates raised over 3.5 million dollars. Between the matches, the Ndlovu Youth Choir performed. The Zip Zap Circus, “founded to inspire young people and to help build a new culture of peaceful coexistence in South Africa,” was also there.
The amount of money raised is significant because it allows the foundation to help more people get educated and escape the cycle of poverty. The Roger Federer Foundation has helped 2.4 million children worldwide access education and helped preschools create a “Sustainable mentoring system.” And with the money raised from Match for Africa, the foundation can help more children.
Commenting on the sixth Match for Africa, Federer told ESPN, “I never thought I was going to be part of something like that, to be honest. It’s not something you dream about, these things just happen, and we are grateful to be part of it.”
The sixth match of the Match for Africa set a record for the number of people in attendance, as over 51,000 people were present.
According to Janine Handel, CEO of the Roger Federer Foundation, this is important “not only to raise funds but also to raise awareness for our cause.”
In other words, although many people came for the excitement of watching tennis legends Federer and Nadal battle it out on the courts, they stayed for a lesson on education and poverty, something they would have otherwise not known about.
The significance of education awareness is that it mobilizes people to emulate Federer and help children get educated. While Federer has been very successful with his foundation, helping over 2.4 million children, he is only one person and can only do so much. Thus, through mobilizing other people, thousands, if not millions, more children can get the education they need and thus escape the cycle of poverty.
Although poverty and lack of education still exist today, through the efforts of the Roger Federer Foundation and the projects they do, like the Match for Africa, to raise awareness and money, there is hope for a better future — a future in which every child is educated and can escape from the cycle of poverty.
– Hope Yonehara