SoL to host Nelson Mandela Day

by Kate Smith

Saturday’s game will commemorate collaboration.

Sunderland AFC will mark its recent collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Foundation with Saturday’s game against Manchester United designated as ‘Nelson Mandela Day’.

Launched earlier this month, the unique partnership between the club and the foundation, a first in world football, aims to help to promote the former South African President’s legacy, through the global reach of the Barclays Premier League. Sunderland AFC will be a Legacy Advocate for the Nelson Mandela Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation established in 1999 to support the former South African Presidents’ ongoing engagement in promoting his legacy of social justice outside the purely political arena following his retirement.

Sunderland’s players will sport one-off t-shirts for the pre-game warm up on Saturday, bearing the foundation’s logo and a special ‘text to donate’ message in support of the foundation. Both teams will take to the field through a guard of honour of youngsters also sporting Nelson Mandela Foundation t-shirts, along with eleven specially chosen mascots. A flag bearing the foundations’ logo will also be displayed pitchside.

African musicians, the Abatimbo Drummers of Burundi, will entertain fans before the game and again at half-time showcasing the unique musical sound of Africa.

Sunderland AFC’s marketing director Mike Farnan said: “Saturday’s game will be showcased to a global audience and this provides us with the perfect platform to highlight our unique partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

“We are delighted to be working hand in hand with the foundation and to be the first football club to form such an association with them is something that we are immensely proud of.”

Sunderland AFC began its off the field relationship with the African continent in 2011 forging a partnership with the Invest In Africa initiative to promote awareness of the opportunities of doing business in Africa. Linking with Invest in Africa has also helped Sunderland AFC to grow its fanbase and global presence, particularly in Africa, where nearly 1.2 billion people watch Premier League matches.

William Pollen, Director of Invest in Africa added: “Sunderland AFC has given Invest in Africa the platform to take our message that ‘Africa is open for business’ to a global audience and investors around the world, so we’re naturally very pleased to see the club continue to develop their own links with the African continent through such a groundbreaking and inspiring initiative as the Nelson Mandela Foundation. We wish them every success for a great launch day on March 30th and for the longer term partnership.”