Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne were at Finch Farm on Monday to learn more about Everton in the Community as the Blues lent their support to a campaign encouraging people across the UK to sign-up for this year’s Sport Relief.
Mr Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Mr Osborne met manager Roberto Martinez, captain Phil Jagielka, goalkeeper Tim Howard and striker Arouna Kone as they joined an exclusive training session with Everton Academy players to raise awareness of global efforts and blow the final whistle in the fight against malaria.
Of all the money raised by the public through Sport Relief, which takes place between 18–20 March, 50 per cent is used to make a difference in the UK and 50 per cent goes towards transforming lives across the world’s poorest communities. The fight against malaria, a disease that claims almost half a million lives each year, is an important part of this international work.
The Gates Foundation is a long-term partner of Comic Relief, the charity behind Sport Relief, pledging millions of pounds in the fight against malaria – a disease which claims a child’s life every minute. The Gates Foundation is matching funds raised this year by Sport Relief for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS TB and Malaria, a partner that provides half of all international funding for malaria worldwide.
The visit to Finch Farm was part of a joint trip to Liverpool, where Mr Gates and Mr Osbourne saw first-hand how the city is helping lead the fight against global diseases like malaria.
At an earlier event at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), Gates and Osborne announced a landmark £3billion funding commitment over the next five years as part of the global fight against malaria. The announcement follows on from the £1billion Ross Fund announced last year, a partnership between the Gates Foundation and the UK government to help fight infectious diseases like malaria.
Mr Gates said: “Malaria is one of the most devastating diseases in the world. But with the leadership and commitment of the people in Britain, I am optimistic that we can win this fight. I want to encourage everyone to sign-up to Sport Relief to help continue this Great British tradition”.
Mr Osborne added: "I'm really proud of the amazing support the British people continue to show Sport Relief and the government is playing its part too, matching up to £10million of the money it raises for international projects. On top of that, Bill and I are announcing today £3billion of funding aimed at eradicating malaria all together, helping support UK institutions like the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. It was brilliant to bring Bill Gates to the heart of the Northern Powerhouse to see the pioneering work done here.
"It was also great to visit Everton Football Club to see the great work they are doing in local communities in collaboration with Sport Relief. Sport Relief has already done brilliant things, but there's so much more to do to rid the world of this terrible disease. So my message is, please support Sport Relief, and together let's show malaria the red card."
During the visit, Mr Gates and the Chancellor also met with Everton CEO Robert Elstone, Everton in the Community CEO Dr Denise Barrett-Baxendale MBE and young people benefitting from projects funded by money raised by Sport Relief at home.
They were given a run-down of proposals put together by participants of the Premier League Enterprise Challenge, an initiative, jointly-funded by Comic Relief and the Premier League, set-up to tackle the issue of underachievement at school, the resulting difficulties around aspiration and ambition and the broader issue of employment opportunities.
“It has been a fantastic opportunity to welcome Bill Gates and George Osborne to Everton today," said Martinez. "The work we do in the community is very important to us as a Club and Everton are really proud to be supporting Sport Relief this year. It’s great to be involved in an amazing initiative that gets people active and raises money, not only to help kids here in Liverpool but also to fight devastating diseases such as malaria in some of the world’s poorest communities.”
This season’s Premier League Enterprise Challenge theme focuses on developing a strategy that encourages attending fans to spend more time at stadiums on match days and commercial opportunities that this could generate, with Everton in the Community's representatives, all pupils from Knowsley Park School, set to present their business plan at next month's semi-finals in Manchester.
Richard Scudamore, Executive Chairman of the Premier League, said: “It is fantastic that Everton’s Premier League Enterprise Challenge representatives have presented their ideas to Bill Gates and George Osborne. What an amazing opportunity and inspiration. We and our clubs know the power of football to help engage people, particularly the young, and get them involved in sport and education. In this case, by developing crucial skills in business and enterprise.
"We need partnerships like the one we have with Sport Relief to help deliver expertise and opportunities. We have been working with them since 2002 to deliver positive outcomes to thousands of young people”.
For more information about Sport Relief and how to enter the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Games, click here