The football legend brings a global profile and more than 20 years’ experience of working with charitable projects.
Seedorf, who remains the only player to have lifted the UEFA Champions League with three different clubs, has dedicated himself to social projects both during and after his playing career, using the power of sport to inspire positive change.
“We are delighted Clarence is joining the UEFA Foundation for Children family,” said UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin, who is also chairman of the UEFA Foundation for Children.
“Not only does he carry an inspirational story as one of the most successful footballers of his generation, he has continually used his experiences to help make the world a better place for others. Having Clarence on our team will be a huge benefit to the Foundation as we work together to improve the lives of disadvantaged children all over the world.”
GIVING BACK TO COMMUNITIES
Seedorf, who speaks six languages and represented the Netherlands 87 times, added: “It’s an honour and a pleasure to join the UEFA Foundation for Children. I have followed its activities closely and am very happy to join in support of its work.
“I have spoken with President Čeferin for some time and appreciate that he has embraced the idea of me joining the team. I hope we can enjoy this relationship for a long time, do some great things and give back to communities around the world.”
After signing with the Foundation, Seedorf spoke more about the role in a special Q&A session, outlining the importance of sport as a vehicle for change as well as looking ahead to UEFA EURO 2020.
Clarence, welcome to the UEFA Foundation for Children. How do you see your role on the board of trustees developing?
“I think joining the Foundation is a nice evolution of my relationship with UEFA which has been in place for some time, and together we understand the importance that football has in society and in the lives of kids.
“I’ve been involved in foundations for over 20 years, and that has given me great insight into what it takes to make an impact and create projects that make a difference.
“But first, I want to understand much better and learn from where the Foundation stands now and how I can bring my knowledge and experience on board in order to achieve the goals of the Foundation, and eventually, improve upon what is there now and bring added value as a team member. I really look forward to this and I am very proud of this appointment.”
How important is it that players and sportspeople use their influence as a force for good?
“Well, many players actually are involved in charitable organisations, either their own or lending their name to other institutions or organisations.
“It’s something very personal and some are more involved than others, some are visionary in what they do and involved in decision-making processes where others prefer to be more behind the scenes or low-key.
“Nobody has an obligation to run in front but I think we all have an obligation to add value to all those who have given us so much over the years.
“I’ve always seen a lot of goodwill from players to participate in good causes and I’m just happy to continue my part in that without comparing or having expectations of others. I believe we should start with ourselves and try to put as much in as we can.”
Who have been your own inspirations and role models through the course of your life?
“The first people are my parents, of course. They’ve always been very positive role models in my life. I would also say some of the teachers I had from school and in my football youth.
“Nelson Mandela, particularly, has always played and still plays a very central role in the core of my mission – enduring situations and starting a path for us to follow and to keep on pushing for those who are less privileged and for a more peaceful world.
“My belief is that peace comes through education, and education has to have, as a backbone, sports, especially in the early stages of life. These are the key elements I believe will change the world. And we have the capacity and the means to, as a team, make that difference.
“Having role models in life – and this is where we go back a little bit to players – I think that the role that players have today, even more than 20 years ago, is to be a positive role model and to be aware that kids are looking up to you and follow your actions and behaviours.
“Those role models have always continued to keep me on the right path – that spiritual path, actually, of giving and adding value where we can.”
Mandela talked about the power of sport to inspire change in the world. How important can it be as a social tool?
“He was able to change the face of a whole country and the understanding of unity through sport. So, it’s just a very, very strong, efficient and effective tool when it’s used properly.
“That’s what I believe we should be aiming for: to create and embrace very strong and sustainable projects that use sport as a fundamental tool to improve the overall development and lives of young kids.
“Playing sport between the ages of five and 12 is scientifically proven to help with cognitive and creative development in kids – it should be a right for every child to have.”