Castrol, one of the official sponsors of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, has recently struck up a partnership with Grass Roots Soccer, an innovative (and great!) NGO that utilizes soccer/football to educate children and communities about HIV/AIDS.
They work all over Africa and have a particularly impressive presence in South Africa. This partnership, helped Grass Roots Soccer launch the Castrol Skillz Holiday Programme which “uses football as a platform to enhance HIV/Aids awareness amongst young people between the ages of 10 and 14.”
I was introduced to Grass Roots Soccer by someone who knows the co-founder, Ethan Zohn (former winner of TV reality show, Survivor and current cancer battler). It’s a truly remarkable organization founded by some pretty remarkable people. I think it’s fantastic that Castrol, a sponsor, has launched this partnership with a recognized and highly respected NGO. This is one of the first CSR-like initiatives I’ve heard of by a major sponsor (besides the Continental AG job-training program). Other sponsors such as Budweiser and Sony have launched major marketing campaigns but I hope this initiative by Castrol is an indication that the other major sponsors will be getting involved in similar programs.
Anyway, I learned of the launch of this partnership through the Grass Roots Soccer blog where they wrote about the program launch.
Bridget Nkuna, Corporate Social Investment Manager at Castrol stated ““I loved every minute of it. You could see the children were thoroughly enjoying it and the coaches held their attention throughout the exercise. It was amazing to actually see how key messages around HIV/Aids were threaded into the activities, providing the children with a novel way of learning about HIV/Aids.”
And commenting on the inspiration for Castrol’s participation Ms. Nkuna continues to state:
“The 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ is an exciting time for the whole nation but it will also be a demanding time as South Africans still have to contribute towards the economy while taking care of a family. Through the Castrol Skillz Holiday Programme, we hope to provide some welcome relief for parents who can still continue working, knowing that their children are safe and are being entertained and educated during the holidays.”
The programme feeds into the FIFA Football for Hope movement, which is a strategic alliance, led by FIFA and streetfootballworld to bring together programmes aimed at children and young people using football as an instrument to promote participation and dialogue.
“Football is a great tool for breaking down social barriers, and with the increased interest and excitement of the World Cup, it has become the ideal vessel for getting a message across. Through our partnership with Grassroot Soccer, we feel that we have identified the perfect opportunity to empower the youth with positive, self-affirming life skills information that will serve them well into the future.”
Schools will be closed during the June-July period of next year’s games. Castrol has identified the burden this may place on families (parents working and kids out of school for a whole month) and stepped in to support Grass Roots Soccer’s efforts to provide structured activities as well as life-skills/health educational opportunities, while still celebrating the games. As Castrol notes
“Further Castrol Skillz Holiday Programmes will also be taking place during the extended public school holiday period that has been confirmed to run concurrently with the 2010 World Cup tournament activity.”
Kudos to Castrol for supporting an organization and initiative such as this. I can’t say it makes sense for their brand or know if they think this will enhance their brand, but regardless it is a great partnership and definitely something to celebrate. Now let’s hope that this is the beginning of other sponsors/brands getting on board with CSR initiatives in the lead up to the games!
For full post from the Grass Roots Soccer blog, click here: http://www.grassrootsoccer.org/2009/10/26/castrol-supports-8-skillz-holiday-programs-in-south-africa/