Out of the blue, Ubuntu Football has developed a very significant friendship with NFL star Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers. This all started when our Partner Relationship Manager Shawn Buck, struck up a friendship with a retired American couple, now living in Simonstown, who turned out to be Eric’s in-laws. Eric and his family recently visited Cape Town, and were introduced to Shawn, who spent a week showing Eric around our school, house and football program.
Unbeknown to us, Eric had been visiting Cape Town for the past three years, feeling called to get involved with something meaningful in the very communities that most of his wife’s family still live in. He later shared with us that as he spent time with our staff and children, he had a distinct sense of recognizing what he had been looking for, and in the last few weeks, he has become a very significant and strategic supporter of our work.
Over the week that Eric was with us, he first replaced the TV that had been stolen from our Academy House, and purchased 5 laptop computers for the school. He then stunned us with the gift of an almost-new 19-seater minivan, before contributing extremely generously to the expansion of our Academy residence, which will be completed in the next few months.
Even more significantly, Eric has asked how he can help in a more strategic and long-term capacity. As a starting point, he has arranged a presentation to his 49ers teammates in May, which Shawn Buck and Michael Jenkins will fly out for. Linked to this, we have managed to partner with the San Jose Earthquakes (San Francisco’s professional MLS soccer team) for a charity youth clinic, with the proceeds being donated to Ubuntu, and with Eric and one of the Earthquakes star players present as celebrity guests.