Every kick, dribble, goal celebration, and handshake exchanged by opponents and fans from different socio-cultural backgrounds are attributes of football that can be leveraged to promote diversity and inclusion across the globe, says Bethel Obioma, Head, Corporate Communications, Sahara Group.

Speaking at the launch of the energy group’s ‘#MADwithFOOTBALL’ initiative, Obioma said the campaign aims to foster a culture of oneness, equity and camaraderie. “For us at Sahara, the word MAD represents making a difference. The global acceptance the round leather game enjoys can be a springboard for creative conversations on diversity and inclusion. This is what we hope #MADwithFOOTBALL will inspire,” he said.

Noting that football has the power to bring people together, Obioma added, “We understand that football is more than just a game; it’s a community. We believe that the ideals of that community where everyone feels accepted and valued, and chant endless songs together, regardless of race, gender, creed, or political leaning, can be harnessed towards making a difference.”

As part of this initiative, some employees of Sahara Group have been given the opportunity to attend live matches at Old Trafford and Emirates Stadium, he said, adding that the experience will help ramp up “fun in efficiency and the impact of diversity and inclusion” in the workplace.” The campaign kicks of this weekend with 22 Saharians drawn from our locations in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, scheduled to attend the Arsenal home game against Brighton live at the Emirates on April 14, and Manchester United homes games scheduled for May 25 and 28, respectively at the Old Trafford. Seeing world-class players in action and feeling the energy of the fans will certainly be an unforgettable experience for the beneficiaries,” he said.

“I am thrilled to be part of those that will be attending the Arsenal game as part of the #MADwithFOOTBALL initiative! It’s an amazing opportunity to see Arsenal in action and bond with colleagues at the Emirates stadium. I am over the moon already,” said Mariam Smith of Asharami Synergy, a foremost Sahara Group downstream company in Nigeria.

Camille Lavaud, who joins the delegation from Sahara Energy International, Geneva, said, “Football is a language that is spoken and loved by billions across the globe. There is so much difference we can make with football as the world seeks to stamp out the issues that tear us apart. This is another way Sahara Group is expressing bringing energy to life responsibly.”

According to Roselyn Quansah of So Energy Ghana, a Sahara Group downstream company, “this is a dream come true for me, I can’t wait to feel the vibes at the Old Trafford as MANU team works towards a top-four finish.”

The public can be part of #MADwithFootball initiative by sharing thoughts on how the game can drive togetherness on Sahara Group’s Instagram handle, Obioma said. This also comes with a chance to win Arsenal and Manchester United home jerseys. “Whether it’s promoting diversity or using the platform to address social issues, we would love to receive your contribution. Go to the Sahara Group Instagram page (@iamsaharagroup) and share your ideas in the comment section of the pinned post “MAD with Football” using the hashtag #MADwithFootball and encourage others to support the initiative,” he said.