Above is a link to two articles which I will post below. The article about Roger’s visit to Ethiopia does not have a link with it, and the link to the article where he says he should be ready for Indian Wells does not work. It’s at the RF.com so if you are not a member I will spare you the trouble of creating an account. Thanks to lovely and mustaq for posting this:
Roger Federer: “I just enjoy doing what I can to help.”
By Daniel Huber, Credit Suisse eMagazine
The Roger Federer Foundation has been supporting school projects in Africa since 2003. In mid-February, Federer personally visited one of these schools in Ethiopia. In this interview, he explains why even as a 22-year-old he always wanted to set up his own foundation. He also tells us what affected him the most on this visit to one of the world’s poorest countries.
Daniel Huber: You set up the Roger Federer Foundation back in 2003. How does a young professional who is only 22 years of age at the time manage to achieve something like that?
Roger Federer: I knew from very early on that I wanted to be actively involved along these lines. At the same time, I was often being asked to give various kinds of support even then. So I began to wonder: Where do I want to be five or ten years from now? I realized that I’d rather support projects that are designed in accordance with my own ideals than simply doing a bit here and a bit there. Basically, it was also important for me to start on something small-scale that could grow in tandem with my sporting success. So, the more success I achieved the more money I could generate for the foundation. But our main objective isn’t to raise as much money as possible in as short a time as possible and then spend it again; instead, we’re actually pursuing a long-term approach with the foundation. I know a lot of people who are frightened off by the idea of organizing a foundation such as this. For me, it’s become an important sideline in my life – one I really enjoy.
And how much money does the foundation spend each year?
We’ve now reached around 650,000 Swiss francs.
Is it just you supporting the foundation in financial terms?
No, it’s not just me. We also get support from private donors and generate additional money from the sale of calendars and other Roger Federer Foundation items. Recently, we’ve also been getting a substantial contribution from Credit Suisse, our new partner.
How do you go about choosing projects?
We always have a number of requests to discuss at our meetings. We then examine them based on clear guidelines before coming to a decision. To put it very simply, we want to do something to improve education for children in the poorest countries of Africa. As far as we’re concerned, it’s especially important to educate girls because they’re still particularly disadvantaged in these countries. It’s also important for us to be helping people to help themselves. If a project is almost entirely dependent on funds from donors, there’s always a risk of excessive concentration. We generally support projects lasting three to eight years.
And why are all your projects in Africa?
You can’t be everywhere at once. As with life in general, you need to make decisions about these things. For me, it was important we send out a clear message with the foundation and that we move systematically in a specific direction. Clearly, my personal closeness to South Africa – the country my mother comes from – played a role at the outset. That’s why our first project was also in South Africa. But we’ve now extended our commitments right across the continent, supporting projects in six countries there (Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe).
Critics will say there are also many poor children and a lot of hardship in Switzerland too, so why isn’t Roger Federer helping out the needy in Switzerland?
The question obviously boils down to what you mean by poor. For me, someone is poor if they never or hardly ever get the chance to attend school and are only just managing to get by. We don’t have problems like that in Switzerland. On the other hand, I do play a fairly active role in young people’s sport in Switzerland. Through the foundation, I support the Swiss Sport Aid Foundation’s sponsorship program, which gives a financial helping hand to talented youngsters in sports like karate, badminton, fencing, and mountain biking.
How much work do you put in for the foundation?
In terms of time, my involvement is pretty minimal right now and confined to a few meetings a year, as I need to be relatively careful about conserving my energy. But after – or perhaps even toward the end – of my professional tennis career, I can easily imagine playing a much more active role in the foundation. But in principle there’s more to the foundation than just me as the chairman – we’ve got a whole team, most importantly my parents and our CEO Christoph Schmocker. They currently do the bulk of the work. What I do a lot, obviously, is talk with people that I meet about the foundation and try to get them to support us. I also had the idea of this special calendar: In the end we managed to sell 19,000 copies of it, generating revenues of around 250,000 Swiss francs. We also auction special items of mine on the website. Last year this raised almost 200,000 Swiss francs in total.
For your one-day visit, you left glamorous Dubai to travel to one of the world’s poorest countries. How do you deal personally with the enormous chasm between these two worlds?
Seeing things like that always has a very big emotional impact on me. Something happens to me. I get quite upset about it. On the other hand, the visit proved to be a cleansing experience for me. Somehow I felt much lighter afterward. But the main thing wasn’t the fact that I helped with this project; it was more about getting confirmation that it was the right project. Obviously, I have these charitable commitments because I feel a need to give some of my success back to the poor people of this world. But basically I also really enjoy doing it. I don’t want to exaggerate things. I just enjoy doing what I can to help. Not just me, the whole team. For example, my parents spend around 50 percent of their time doing charitable work.
What did you take home with you from this visit?
First and foremost, it was about doing an official check on the status of the project on behalf of the foundation. But the visit also gave me as an individual an opportunity to gain an impression of a very fascinating country. The scenery is incredibly beautiful, you know. I’d already read some things about the country prior to the trip, but I was actually bowled over by it. I never expected it to be so green. I had an image of an austere, desert-like landscape. But in such a gigantic country you realize that there are also very different climate zones. Also, I wasn’t fully aware beforehand that we would constantly be above 2,300 meters. This altitude is somehow special and you can really feel it. I was also very impressed by the people, who gave us such a warm, heartfelt welcome and are also very proud.
And what’s your impression of the school?
I got a very good impression there too. The teachers and local project managers seem to be doing good work. At any rate, it seems to be going well for the children. Even when the T-shirts were being distributed and things got slightly boisterous, the people in charge calmly kept everything under control. Similar situations have gotten ugly, in my experience. I also really liked the fact that the children are clearly into sport in a big way. Throughout our visit children were always playing football, table tennis or volleyball – simply out of love for the game.
Federer looking for full fitness by Indian Wells
Roger Federer, speaking to Swiss tabloid Blick, says he is optimistic that he will be fully fit by Indian Wells after missing Dubai with a lung infection.
“This is not like the mononucleosis two years ago, where there was a lot of uncertainty. I think I’ll start back in Indian Wells, and when I start, I will be healthy and fit,” he said. “But as I said, it’s only possible if I get the green light physically [from the doctors]. The worst cases prognosis is a break of six weeks.”
Federer said he first felt ill last Tuesday. “After the Australian Open I took it fairly easy… so there’s no question of it being from strain. Last Tuesday, I practiced and it quickly went downhill. I felt chills, fever, a lot of pain in my ribs and couldn’t breather normally.
“The fatigue is still there, though it’s slowly getting better.”
The world No. 1 is scheduled to play a ‘Hit for Haiti’ exhibition match at Indian Wells on March 12, along with Rafael Nadal, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. Federer said he “will do everything” to try to play the event. “The people of Haiti need our help urgently,” he said.
Some interesting things here. It looks like Roger could well have picked up his lung infection in Ethiopia, because it started after he was there. But after having read the article about Ethiopia, I was glad that he went nonetheless. For someone like Roger who lives a charmed life, it can be easy to get caught up in a fantasy world which is removed from some of the harsh realities of life, so all credit to him for doing these kind of trips. Not surprising then that he felt it was a cleansing trip, because he will feel more in touch with reality now. I think many rich people are tempted to just ignore these kind of realities, and therefore they live in a kind of denial. Also it’s great to see that Roger thinks he will be back in Indian Wells. It’s a bit unfortunate that he missed Dubai, but these kind of experiences is important to be a balanced person. and will help his career in the long run.