President of United Republic of Tanzania visits Wearside to help kick off new project.
Sunderland AFC has further strengthened its links with the African continent by committing to a ground-breaking football partnership with the country of Tanzania.
The partnership will see the club lend its expertise to the creation of a football academy programme in the country, which will be developed by global electricity giant Symbion Power.
The club will provide technical and practical support to the development of the football academy project, the first of its kind in the country. The project will see thousands of youngsters benefit from a joined-up approach combining football, education and community engagement, harnessing the knowledge and expertise of Sunderland AFC and its own successful Academy.
The first phase of the development will see the building of a community football facility in Dar es Salaam, followed by the next phase, which will see the creation of an elite academy programme and facilities, to support Tanzania in the development of young footballers.
To kick off the partnership, Sunderland AFC was honoured to welcome a delegation from Tanzania to the club, headed by His Excellency Dk. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania and Paul Hinks, CEO of Symbion Power.
The delegation met with senior club officials and city leaders, including SAFC Chairman Ellis Short and CEO Margaret Byrne, enjoying a tour of Sunderland’s 49,000 capacity home, the Stadium of Light, and state of the art Academy of Light training facility.
During the visit the Tanzanian delegation also saw some of the ground-breaking work of the club’s charity, Foundation of Light, widely recognised as the blue print for football community engagement in the United Kingdom.
Paul Hinks, CEO of Symbion Power said: "I've been doing business in Tanzania since 1982 and today Symbion Power is its largest US investor and its largest independent power producer.
“As in the UK and countries across Europe, Tanzania is a nation blessed with an abundance of football talent. However, there is a lack of training resources. The collaboration between Symbion and Sunderland aims to provide first class facilities and training that will improve the standard of its football youth and in the future open up opportunities for them in Europe.
“Sunderland's commitment to Africa is extraordinary and impressive. The fans of this great club should be extremely proud. I applaud them."
Sunderland AFC chairman, Ellis Short, added: “We are delighted to welcome Tanzania to the Sunderland family, further enhancing our club’s relationship with the African continent.
“This exciting partnership, combining football and community engagement, will enable us to share our expertise to help Tanzania develop an effective football infrastructure. We are very much looking forward to working alongside Symbion Power and seeing this project come to fruition.”
Sunderland AFC has established itself as one of the most recognised English clubs across Africa in recent seasons.
The club linked up with Invest in Africa in January 2012, affording a springboard to the ground-breaking not-for-profit initiative to promote Africa as a leading investment destination and actively challenge misconceptions about investing on the continent.
Further developing its links with the continent, the club announced recently the BFS Group Limited as its new principal partner from season 2013-14. BFS Group is the main UK operation of The Bidvest Group Limited, which is headquartered in South Africa.
SAFC also became the first football club in the world to form a partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation last season.
Picture: Sunderland chairman Ellis Short with the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, His Excellency Dk. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete.