Siya Kolisi an inspiration for Africa, says Roger Federer

Roger Federer plays with children from Hangberg Pre-Primary School in Hout Bay at a 'learning through play' session at Green Point Athletics Stadium on February 7 2020.
Roger Federer plays with children from Hangberg Pre-Primary School in Hout Bay at a 'learning through play' session at Green Point Athletics Stadium on February 7 2020.
Image: Esa Alexander

Roger Federer, whose foundation has raised almost R800m to educate African children, says he believes Springbok captain Siya Kolisi can have an even greater impact.

Federer, the 38-year-old world No 3 with 20 Grand Slam titles, was speaking at Cape Town Stadium on Friday after practising with world No 2 Rafael Nadal.

The two superstars will feature in the Match for Africa, in aid of Federer's foundation, at a sold-out event which will break the world record for the number of spectators at a tennis match.

Federer met Kolisi for the first time on Thursday and said the Rugby World Cup-winning captain was "a very inspirational figure on this continent".

"His story is so powerful," he said, predicting that Kolisi's impact on Africa would be even greater than his achievement of helping to educate 1.5-million children in six southern African countries.

Federer said the effect on South Africa of the Springboks' 2019 triumph at the Rugby World Cup in Japan was "something we can almost not comprehend in Europe".

The player said he had been resting since suffering a groin injury at the Australian Open in Melbourne and felt "great" ahead of a "very special occasion at a beautiful stadium".

Mirka Federer at a 'learning through play' event at Green Point Athletics Stadium on February 7 2020.
Mirka Federer at a 'learning through play' event at Green Point Athletics Stadium on February 7 2020.
Image: Esa Alexander

"This evening is going to be crazy because I have roots in this country," said Federer, whose mother Lynette was born in Johannesburg.

He said he expected to feel emotional at finally playing in South Africa.

"It's been a long time coming and I wish I could have done it earlier," he said, promising he would be a more regular visitor to the country once he retired from the professional circuit.

After his news conference, Federer met children from Cape Town's Zip Zap Circus, who will link up with the Ndlovu Youth Choir to entertain the 50,000-strong crowd on Friday evening.

The Match in Africa will begin with a doubles match featuring Federer and Microsoft founder Bill Gates playing Nadal and comedian Trevor Noah.

Federer's wife Mirka will be in the crowd after joining her husband - the father of their two sets of twins - earlier on Friday.

The Swiss/South African player has been in Cape Town since arriving from Namibia on Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier on Friday, he visited the Bo-Kaap before a photo shoot with Nadal and members of their families on the Grand Parade in central Cape Town.


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