Roger Federer Foundation aiming for maximum impact with minimum spin | Les Roopanarine

From Aid | The Guardian Fri Nov 30 2012, 10:31:50

The Swiss star's support for child education projects in southern Africa and beyond lights the way for the wider tennis fraternity

Last year, in a study by the US-based Reputation Institute (pdf), Roger Federer was named second on a list of the world's most respected people. Behind him were Bill Gates (third) and Ban Ki-moon (11th), ahead of him only Nelson Mandela. It's fair to say the Swiss tennis star has a reputation to maintain.

With that in mind, there's a lot riding on the Roger Federer Foundation (RFF). The organisation, which partners local NGOs to support education projects for children living in poverty, was founded in 2003 - the year of Federer's first Wimbledon victory - because his parents felt it was important to give back.

Many find it unthinkable that a high-profile sportsman like Federer would pursue such a project for reasons other than PR, or to maximise sponsorship returns. Yet, as the world's sixth most marketable athlete - and fifth highest paid - the Swiss seems beyond such concerns. If anything, says the foundation's CEO, Janine Händel, Federer's altruism potentially jeopardises the very thing that puts him in a position to make a difference in the first place - his standing.

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