SEATTLE, Washington — Among tennis fans, Roger Federer is a legend. He also understands the importance of education. Research shows that “if all children in developing countries” learned to read and write, it could reduce poverty around the world by 12 percent. In Zimbabwe, South Africa, Malawi and Namibia, Roger Federer is considered a beam of hope for children’s education. Roger Federer’s Foundation provides educational opportunities for children.
Roger Federer’s Foundation
The Federer Foundation began in 2004 by partnering with associations that care about the education of children in the Southern region of Africa and Switzerland, Federer’s home country. Since its creation, the foundation has provided $52 million to education initiatives in more than 7,000 primary schools and pre-schools. This has benefited around 1.5 million children with a better education.
In an interview with ESPN, Federer said his mom was the main reason to create his foundation. South Africa is the birthplace of his mom. After visiting South Africa on vacation with his family, Federer witness poverty firsthand. He wanted to use his success as a way to give back. “I decided to create my own foundation and really try to give a quality education in South Africa with unprivileged children and 15 years later, I am able to support one million children and to raise over $50 million. I still feel like we are at the beginning; I would like to do much more maybe in some nice crazy way.”
Why Education is the Key
There are four main reasons for this foundation to concentrate on education in Africa.
- It is considered a basic human right. In fact, it is the fourth sustainable development goal of the United Nations.
- Education helps prevent children and adults alike from falling into poverty or continuing the generational poverty trap. It also increases the chances of obtaining a job. It helps people create long term plans to afford a sustainable life.
- Education also promotes public health by keeping people informed about diseases, hygiene and nutrition. According to a UNESCO study, it is key that girls have access to education to prevent child marriage, gender inequality and unwanted pregnancies.
- Education promotes tolerance and enhances social responsibility. It aids in the involvement of people in a democracy and prevents behaviors that might endanger the environment and a person’s well-being.
Education in Africa has improved drastically over the years; however, there is still a long way to go. Two main problems still stand strong are that many children don’t have access to primary school and the quality of education offered is still not good enough. According to a study by UNESCO, South Africa will need at least 17 million teachers by 2030.
Raising Money for the Foundation
Federer holds exhibition matches across the world against some of the top 10 players on the tour to raise money for the Federer Foundation. As of now, the Match in Africa, as it is called, has raised more than $52 million for children’s education. The first match that was held was in Switzerland against Rafael Nadal. They played a second time in Nadal’s native Spain. The two exhibition matches were named “Joining Forces for the Benefit of Children.”
The last match held was in February 2020 against Rafael Nadal in Cape Town, South Africa. Both players also participated in a doubles match alongside Trevor Noah, a native from South Africa, and Bill Gates. The event raised $3.5 million in aid for children’s education in Africa. The money does not only come from fans, however. Several philanthropic organizations, such as Rolex SA, Roche Employees Action and Charity Trust, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Starbucks Foundation and the ATP World Tour, support the Federer Foundation.
Federer also supports several efforts from other celebrities like Elton John’s AIDS foundation. He collaborates with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Humpty Dumpty Foundation. Federer received the Laureus “World Sportsman of the Year” in 2017. He is also a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador. However, it is his work through the Foundation that continues to make a lasting impact on the children in Africa.
– Merlina San Nicolás Leyva