Sports has an unique way in engaging fans from all over the world. In the 1995 Rugby World Cup, Nelson Mandela walked onto the field of Ellis Park donning the Springboks jersey and shook the hand of François Pienaar, captain of the Springboks at the time. That day was a defining moment to uniting the South African people together. Many companies are not afraid to sponsor athletes and sports teams to endorse their brands, but how many would want to invest in youth development, and build infrastructure? How can companies engage in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes through sports? What is in it for them for the long run? Let’s take a look.
Sports has a unique way of capturing the attention of fans and bring them together. There are millions of kids who are aspiring to be the next Cristiano Ronaldo or Lebron James, so why not give them an opportunity to show their talents? Copa Coca Cola, the biggest grassroots football programme, gave many less fortunate children a chance to showcase their skills and get selected to join the Copa Coca Cola Camp. The Camp allowed them to train with top coaches from all over the world, participate in matches and make new friends from all over the world. Copa Coca Cola has been a huge success and in 2015, 80,000 school from across the globe took part in the tournament.
I believe that every time someone mentions CSR, the first thing that comes to mind is, saving the environment or donating some money to non-profit organisations. However, CSR can also be done through sports. An example of a company in Singapore that has engaged in CSR through sports is Canon. They have partnered with Singapore Bowling Federation and the Singapore National Olympic Council Official Partnership Programme, to promote sports in the community, and support athletes to reach their full potential.
So, what is in it for you in the long run? Why should you start CSR through sports? Well, it’s simple, you are going to make a difference to the lives of people who dream to be an athlete. The population of Singapore is decreasing, secondary schools and junior colleges have been combined because there are lesser children. This will affect sports as the talent pool will also decrease due to the decline in the number of youths.
I am not saying that sports in Singapore will not succeed because we have far lesser people than other countries. However, sports in Singapore will not succeed if youths do not get the opportunities and support to showcase their skill and reach their full potential. If you think that the population of a country is the reason for our demise in sports, I would have to disagree with you on that.
In 2016, Iceland made it to the quarter finals of the Euros after beating England in the round of 16. The population of England in 2016 was 65,648,000. The population of Iceland? 334,252. Iceland was the smallest country to ever take part in a major Final, and they went to the quarter finals. How? It turns out that they had a dedicated programme to give children and youth the opportunity to play football, with top coaches training them.
A Sports Singapore and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, came up with Vision 2030, by using sports as a strategy for Singaporeans to have a healthier and better life, I believe it is about time companies engage in CSR through sports. Sports in Singapore such as football, may have had poor results the past year, but I think it’s time companies start engaging CSR through sports, and support those who are inspiring to be budding athletes.