Visa Brightens Lives of Ivorian Children With Player Escort Programme

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By Aduragbemi Omiyale

Over 800 boys and girls between 9 and 13years across Cote d’Ivoire have been given a rare opportunity to escort some of the world’s top football players onto the pitch during the ongoing TotalEnergies CAF African Cup of Nations (AFCON) taking place in Côte d’Ivoire.

This has been made possible through the Visa Player Escort Programme designed to give the children a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The 2023 AFCON enters the quarterfinals stage on Friday, February 2, 2024, with Nigeria fighting for a spot in the last four with Angola.

Visa, a global leader in digital payments and the chosen digital payment provider for the tournament, has collaborated with several partners including financial institutions, football federations, community partners and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

“Visa is proud to support the Africa Cup of Nations, a celebration of Africa’s vibrant football heritage and passion. Our Player Escort Programme is designed to fuel the passion of young enthusiasts and cultivate their love for football while creating memories that will last a lifetime.

“We’re thrilled to offer these budding stars a once-in-a-lifetime experience and to highlight the unifying power and spirit of football,” the Senior Vice-President and Head of Sub-Saharan Africa at Visa, Aida Diarra, said.

Already, 500 children have had the thrilling experience of stepping onto the AFCON pitch alongside their football heroes during the Group Stage.

The tournament’s opening game was particularly special, featuring 22 children from families hailing from three cocoa-producing regions – Agboville, Abengourou, and Aboisso. Their parents are part of the pilot phase of a national traceability system for coffee and cocoa, a project initiated by the Cocoa Coffee Council of Côte d’Ivoire, Panelys, and Visa, aiming to offer end-to-end digital financial traceability solutions to over 700,000 cocoa farmers in the region.

“During the start of the tournament, we have already seen how AFCON 2023 is inspiring a new generation of future football fans across Côte d’Ivoire, and we are delighted to be able to partner with Visa on the Player Escort Program,” said Yacine Idriss Diallo, President of the Ivorian Federation of Football.

“Having the opportunity to walk on the pitch alongside their idols will bring special memories to last a lifetime for more than 800 young Ivorians and a truly unique experience that will help strengthen passion for the game throughout the country.”

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