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Visa Player Escort Program Makes Dreams Come True For Ivorian Children

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CAF Sponsor Branding Ball Kids during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations match between Algeria and Angola held at Peace Stadium in Bouake, Cote d’Ivoire on 15 January 2024 ©Djaffar Ladjal/BackpagePix
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Visa Player Escort Program Makes Dreams Come True For Ivorian Children

Over 800 children will lead Africa’s football stars onto the pitch during the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations, Cote d’Ivoire 2023.

As the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON, Côte d’Ivoire 2023 tournament goes into the knock-out stages, not only are the continent’s best footballers gearing up for the next phase of the competition, but children from across Cote d’Ivoire are also getting a chance to shine courtesy of Visa’s Player Escort program.

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 NGOs. Together, they have selected more than 800 boys and girls, aged 9 to 13, to escort some of the world’s top football players onto the pitch during the games.

Visa Player Escort Program Makes Dreams Come True For Ivorian Children

“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” said Aida Diarra, Senior Vice-President, and Head of Sub-Saharan Africa at Visa.

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.

CAF Sponsor Branding Ball Kids during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations match between Algeria and Angola held at Peace Stadium in Bouake, Cote d’Ivoire on 15 January 2024 ©Djaffar Ladjal/BackpagePix

“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”

Other children involved in the program were carefully selected from a variety of sources. These include the academies and training camps of the Ivorian Football Federation, an educational institution managed by the Foundation Magic System NGO, children of Visa employees, and young ones related to Visa’s banking and fintech customers.

Visa Player Escort Program Makes Dreams Come True For Ivorian Children

The TotalEnergies CAF AFCON, Côte d’Ivoire 2023 tournament is hosting 24 teams playing 52 matches across six stadiums, with Visa facilitating digital payment technology at all venues and for tickets purchased both in-person and online.

In October, Visa announced the extension of its partnership with the Confederation of African Football (CAF), which now includes all AFCON tournaments until 2026. For the first time, the partnership will also cover the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON), the African high Schools tournament, and the integration of Visa products and services in all of CAF’s operations.

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