Sunderland AFC announce pioneering African partnership
Tue 24th Jan 2012 | Marketing & PR
Sunderland AFC has joined forces with Africa's largest independent oil company, Tullow Oil, to kick off a pioneering scheme which will showcase the continent's capacity for social and business development.
A club delegation including director of international development, Niall Quinn, international and national marketing director, Mike Farnan and SAFC Foundation chief executive, Lesley Spuhler, has travelled to the Ghanaian capital Accra for this morning's launch of the Invest in Africa initiative, underlining the Black Cats' support for a continent in which its popularity is continuing to grow.
Sunderland has become one of the most recognised Barclays Premier League clubs across Africa in recent seasons, with Ghanaian trio Asamoah Gyan, John Mensah and Sulley Muntari, Benin playmaker Stéphane Sessègnon and Egypt international Ahmed Elmohamady all wearing the Black Cats' red and whites stripes since 2009.
The club's growing presence led to the BBC World Service's inaugural visit to a Barclays Premier League fixture at the Stadium of Light on New Year's Day 2012, with Sunderland's victory over title-contenders Manchester City broadcast to more than 25 million Africans in Swahili.
Sunderland AFC will use that presence to support the initiative's aims to stimulate and sustain long-term economic growth across Africa, in-turn developing the skills of the continent's workforce, boosting domestic job markets and helping to build and develop local capacity.
Niall Quinn, a former Sunderland AFC player and its current director of international development, said: "We are genuinely excited about this ground-breaking opportunity to bring Sunderland into new territories and the global appeal of the Premier League is something that we can harness as a powerful tool for change through our innovative partnership with Invest in Africa.
"Africa's passion for football is both heart-warming and inspirational and as a football club with community, people and international aspirations firmly at its core, there is a natural synergy between us and this wonderful continent. We look forward to growing and developing the partnership in the coming months."
As the initial Founding Partner establishing Invest in Africa, Tullow Oil plans to secure further Founding Partners from the international businesses community focused on the continent. These Partners will help to evolve and shape the programme in years to come.
Speaking at the launch, Tullow chief executive Aidan Heavey said: "Tullow is investing in Africa for the long term and we want more businesses to do the same. Africa has been good to us, and we have been successful, but we want that success to bring growth for local people and economies too.
"Africa's a great place to invest and this partnership with Sunderland AFC will allow us to get the message to a global audience. There are some great opportunities out there and we want other companies who share our vision to join us."
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