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German Sports Heroes Raise Money for Africa in Mandela's Honor

Germany's celebrated sports personalities graced a Goal 4 Africa event held in Munich in honor of former South African President Nelson Mandela at the weekend.

Teams line up before the start of the Goal 4 Africa Charity match in Munich

Official opening of the Goal 4 Africa event in Munich

Germany's top sports personalities were among the big crowd that packed Munich's Allianz Arena on Saturday, July 12, to launch a charity campaign aimed at raising millions to help alleviate poverty in Africa as well as helping the African child attain education.

The event coincided with the birthday celebrations of South African anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday.

Germany Sports Icons Speak

Michael Schumacher celebrates after scoring a goal in the Goal 4 Africa soccer match in Munich

Michael Schumacher celebrates after scoring a goal in the Goal 4 Africa soccer match in Munich

Germany national soccer team captain and Chelsea star Michael Ballack and retired Formula One motor racing all time hero Michael Schumacher featured in the match organized by Holland and AC Milan star Clarence Seedorf and his teammate Brazilian Ronaldo to try and raise funds for Africa.

Also in attendance was Bayern Munich's new coach Juergen Klinsmann who watched from the touch line.

The Germany national team captain said it was an honour for him to be part of the event, saying it was important for international football players to give back to communities around the world which support them in their fledging careers.

"I feel we should play our part as soccer players and give back to the communities that support us," Ballack said at a press conference before Saturday's match. "I am really happy that I am doing this for Africa."

Retired motor racing icon Schumacher, who was greeted with a huge roar when he came on as a first half substitute in the weekend match, was equally elated to be part of the festivities for a worthy cause.

"I think it's a very wonderful thing to do for the sake of others," he said. "I hope my little contribution by running through the field and scoring goals will go a long way to help children in Africa."

Helping children

The weekend event raised 875,655 euros ($1.39 million). The money will be used to help solve the chronic poverty problems and improve education for children in Africa, a goal that is in line with Nelson Mandela's wish for education for all.

The Goal 4 Africa Foundation, which is running the campaign will also organize a similar event to be held in South Africa in December. It says it hopes to raise 56,619,000 euros ($90 million) by 2010, when South Africa hosts Africa's first world cup.

Germany legend and new Bayern Munich coach, Klinsmann, said he supported the idea of helping Africa.

"It helps change life circumstances and give African children chances in life and we in Europe tap in from the African talent so it is important that we help develop it through initiatives like these," he said.

An African dream

Baichung Bhutia, Clarence Seedorf, Chedric Seedorf, Djemba-Djemba and Michael Schumacher celebrates after their team scored a goal

Baichung Bhutia, Clarence Seedorf, Chedric Seedorf, Djemba-Djemba and Michael Schumacher celebrated after their team scored a goal

The man behind the campaign, Clarence Seedorf who himself had to go through the rigours of African life on his way to stardom, said his campaign is all about changing lives and giving African children a chance.

"All I am trying to say through this campaign is that everything is possible," he said. "Life is what we make it, it is all about creating hope in an otherwise hopeless situation it about giving African children a chance in live.

"I want us to eradicate poverty through every goal scored in football matches throughout the world. I promote hopes and dreams," he added. "The money raised will help develop education for life and help realise Nelson Mandela's dream of education for all and all for education and eradicate poverty."

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