The AFF Championship, Southeast Asia’s flagship biennial international football competition, has had a huge impact on the communities in the region ever since the first edition in 1996, and it means a great deal to the million of fans. In 2022, the AFF Championship enters its 14th edition and heralds in a brand new era – the tournament sees Mitsubishi Electric stepping into the title sponsorship role with the event now officially titled AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup.
With their slogan “Together, We Can Build Better”, this landmark partnership serves as an extension of Mitsubishi Electric’s aspirations to strengthen the relationships between players, fans and all the stakeholders to cultivate a sense of unity and collectively contribute to the development of the region. Especially as the world starts to bounce back after two challenging years, the ultimate goal of Mitsubishi Electric, as well as AFF, for the 2022 edition was to bring the event back to prominence, reconnect and engage with the fans, and give back to the local communities through football.
In the weeks leading up to the 2022 tournament, a Trophy Tour of five Southeast Asian cities was planned and organised. Beginning on 24 September in Bangkok, Thailand, the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022 Trophy Tour made stops in Singapore (15 October), Selangor, Malaysia (22 October), Jakarta, Indonesia (26 November), before concluding in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (3 December).
At each stop, the free-to-attend event featured special appearances by local football legends and offered fans and members of the public the opportunity to get up close with the historic trophy and interact with their footballing heroes.
Football Clinics for children from local communities
In addition to the Trophy Tour, SPORTFIVE also made use of this opportunity to launch a new corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative focused on supporting and engaging with children from the local communities around the region. Partnering with the local football federations and community/charity organisations, SPORTFIVE worked with AFF and Mitsubishi Electric to put together a series of exciting experiences, headlined by the Football Clinics, for children in each of the five countries – Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam, to participate.
Led by local football legends alongside football coaches, these fun-filled, engaging Football Clinics provided young children between the ages of 6-16 years old the opportunity to learn the fundamental footballing techniques of the sport, go through training drills that professional players would practice in, and interact with their local heroes through match play. The aim of these clinics was to make the sport more accessible, especially for children from the local charity groups that might have limited participation opportunities, bring the community together to celebrate the love of football, and hopefully inspire these children to dream big and aspire to be a national football player for their countries in the future.
Football meets education
The AFF Championship has demonstrated over the years that football transcends language and nationalities and can unite a country. It has also shown its ability to inculcate values and life skills to followers and fans of the game.
It is with this in mind that the Football Clinics are created – to establish a community of support in a fun, nurturing environment to impart values such as teamwork and good work ethics to the children, and develop their interpersonal skills and self-confidence through the interaction with the legends and coaches. These are important life skills that will help the children in many areas of their lives. Furthermore, beyond the physical health benefits, football, or sports in general, provides a host of emotional and psychological benefits that can motivate the children and boost their mental health.
Kunihiko Seki, Corporate Executive and Chief Representative Asia Pacific Region of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, said, "Here at Mitsubishi Electric, we strongly believe that it is also important to make football accessible to children from all walks of life and we are proud to have supported the CSR initiative. It brings a smile to my face to see the joy and excitement of the children as they learnt life-long skills from their football heroes. This is exactly as we envisaged when we came on board as the tournament’s title sponsor – to contribute and enrich the lives of the communities through the event and build a better future together."
This is exactly as we envisaged when we came on board as the tournament’s title sponsor – to contribute and enrich the lives of the communities through the event and build a better future together."
Making a positive impact
To ensure that these Football Clinics continue to positively impact the lives of the children after the clinics are completed, AFF, Mitsubishi Electric and SPORTFIVE have further donated football apparels, equipment, and accessories to each of the participating community/charity organisations so that the children involved can continue to learn, play and enjoy football on a regular basis.
We hope that these Football Clinics have kick-started the children’s football journey and will produce the next generation of football fans and national players to propel ASEAN football to greater heights.