London, England, United Kingdom (4E Sports) – Unknown to many, Swiss tennis superstar Roger Federer has been supporting education projects of Malawi children living in poverty through the foundation he established two years ago.
The Roger Federer Foundation (RFF) partners with local non-governmental organizations to support education projects for children living in poverty in Malawi.
At least 54,000 children in Malawi will benefit from an early education initiative started by the RFF since 2010 in partnership with Credit Suisse and is being implemented in conjunction with ActionAid Malawi.
The project, which will run for a decade, aims to harness the potential of 80 childcare centers in six districts, where almost 250,000 children aged six to 11 fail to enroll in school.
During a debate in London about whether tennis does enough to help society, RFF CEO Janine Handel said philanthropy is not just about money.
“It’s about quality, how you invest in social issues, the impact you have in the field,” Handel said.
“If you do charity and you’re a prominent person, it’s very important you do it right,” she added. “It’s a reputational risk you are taking.”
Handel said Federer is putting his ranking as the second most respected people in the world on the line when he put up the foundation, but the tennis star is willing to take the risk to make a difference.
Federer is not the only tennis player involved in philanthropic activities. Retired tennis star Andre Agassi runs an education foundation in Las Vegas while the Guga Kuerten Institute works with disadvantaged children in Brazil.
However, a packed year-round schedule leaves few opportunities for tennis players to visit developing countries and it does not help that so few tournaments are staged in poor nations.
“It comes down to what’s viable commercially, what fits in the calendar, and what the appetite for tennis is in a given region,” said Justin Gimelstob, a player representative on the ATP World Tour directors’ board.
In line with this, the ATP is focusing on supporting the efforts of individual players, which only adds to the importance of organizations like the RFF.