To the rest of the world, he’s known as one of the greatest tennis players of all time. To the children in ‘the warm heart of Africa’, Malawi, he’s known simply as the man who helps to build preschools across the country.
Roger Federer has visited Malawi to celebrate ten years of the Roger Federer Foundation – the charity set-up by the Swiss athlete to help make a difference to the poverty-ridden plains of South Africa.
The 34-year-old has been supporting the government’s Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme in the country as his organisation continues to make progress in the field of early childhood education across the nation.
Dear people of Malawi, thanks for having me. Looking forward to opening more pre-schools! I can't wait to be back pic.twitter.com/6uaipJcO58; Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) July 22, 2015
So far, it has built 50 preschools in the country.
Federer has funded the building of these early-learning centres for years, like the one he visited in Malawi where he spent the day sitting in on classes, helping to cook and serving lunch, as well as enjoying spending time with the youngsters in their playground where they pulled the tennis star’s hair.
Speaking of the importance of school, he said: “I believe every young child should have the opportunity to spend some years in such a centre because early education is the foundation of learning.”
A teacher at the school expressed her gratitude and excitement at having the sportsman in the country and added: “This is very important for us because, not only has he been sending money, but he has taken time to see how the project is impacting the children in Malawi.
“That is important.”
Federer said he was happy and emotional at having had the opportunity to see how the preschool was running and said he hopes to keep visiting countries like Malawi because “children are tomorrow’s future.”
To date, the Roger Federer Foundation has spent $13m (£8.3m) with 215,000 children currently benefiting from the Foundation’s work by receiving food and education.
It hopes to raise this number to one million by 2018.