No, not the city of Zurich but the Zurich Insurance Malaysia, which recently launched its "Zurich Love for Football" program. We chat to Christine Cheu, Chief Marketing Officer of the Swiss insurance company, to find out more about it...
How did the "Zurich Love for Football" campaign come about?
The Zurich Group have always been really active in contributing to the society. Each of our branches around the world has their own corporate social responsibilities; for instance, Switzerland have invested in ice hockey, while the offices in the UK and the United States focus on helping victims of natural disasters. Our company have not been in Malaysia for very long, but we knew football is something that Malaysians are very passionate about. We thought Malaysian teenagers have not been as active as they used to be, so we want to get them back in it.
But why football? Malaysians are big fans of other sports such as badminton, sepaktakraw and hockey as well.
We actually considered other sports as well, but we believe that football in particular resonates with everyone. Like I said, Malaysians are very passionate with the sport. Plus, we like the fact that it is a team sport and can promote good values. And when we launched the campaign back in June, it also coincided with the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Of course, I am not saying that we do not support other sports. It is just that this is the first year we are doing [our corporate social responsibility] and we would like to see how everything goes first.
So, what is on the football itinerary?
Well, our campaign has started running since June and will end in October. We started very small and selected 10 secondary schools with existing football clubs from various states in Peninsular Malaysia. Our football clinics happen on Saturdays, where students can learn about fitness regime, dribbling, passing and so on with the help from the Little League Soccer.
We have also contributed RM5000 to each participating school to help them out, so that they can buy new equipment and upgrade their facilities. In addition, we have had friendly matches in some of the schools between our employees and the students.
Erm, adults versus kids?
I know how it sounds to pit adults against kids, but you will be surprised at how good those kids are. I will not elaborate on the results, so let’s just say we have had close matches. [laughs]
How different is Zurich’s football initiative compared to others?
The difference is that our program has a broader reach and is more accessible. Not only do we have Saturday clinics at the selected schools, we have also developed training videos, so students who weren’t selected will have the opportunity to learn as well. The idea is not to look for the best talents but to encourage more kids to play football and enjoy it. We have estimated that 700 students will benefit from this year’s football clinics.
Why didn’t you guys target a lower age group, let's say, primary students?
You can argue that if we start young we can train them to be better playres, which I do agree. However, our main objective is to nurture the passion in them. We are targeting this specific age group because we think they will appreciate it better. In saying that, we will definitely look at reaching out to a wider spectrum next year to allow more students to benefit from it.
What is Zurich’s final goal of this campaign?
The objective is simple. We want to instill our Zurich cultures and values to the community, and make sure that everyone understands that we are not just here to do business but also to contribute to the society. Those are the main purposes of having this program. Once we have established that, the next objective is to allow Malaysian kids the opportunity to play football and gain more experience from coaches and former professional players.
So far, we have received a lot of positive feedback from the participating schools and our employees, so we will look at how we can expand the program to East Malaysia and do it on a larger scale.
Ok, last question: are the participants insured by Zurich throughout the campaign?
[Laughs] We actually have paramedics on standby at every school we have been to and will continue to do so for the rest of the campaign. Whatever happens, everyone will be taken care of by Zurich.
For more information on “Zurich Love for Football” program and clinic updates, please visit Zurich Insurance Malaysia’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ZurichInsuranceMalaysia or visit www.zurich.com.my.