PROTOUCH AFRICA Launches The Phil Liggett Foundation and Athlete Impact Fund – to Enable more African Riders onto the World Stage. 

The World’s top road cyclists will be coming to Africa in 2025. To be specific, they will be competing in the 2025 UCI World Championships in Rwanda, the first time in the history of the event that it will be hosted on the African continent, and, PROTOUCH could not be more excited!

PROTOUCH is a South African-based SportsTech business, with a focus on fan engagement and a purpose of getting more African riders onto the world stage. Its vision is to unlock value for African riders, through the recently launched Phil Liggett Foundation and its Athlete Impact Investment Fund. 

PROTOUCH also owns and funds the #1 Continental Team in Africa [for three consecutive years] and has recently signed its first top-ranked rider from Rwanda, Moise Mugisha. PROTOUCH would love to see its top performing Continental Team grow into a Pan African Team, over the next three years. 

The Phil Liggett Foundation, which launched this week in Belgium, is a non-profit organisation initially set up by PROTOUCH with the global voice of cycling Phil Liggett, and intent to raise funds for South African road cyclists participating in UCI events. This scope has been extended to incorporate African cycling as a whole, with the launch of its PROTOUCH Africa Fan Engagement Platform, aimed at aggregating African cycling and monetizing the African cycling fan enthusiast.

“Over the past three years, there have been fewer than fifteen African riders in the Men’s World Tour, consisting of over five hundred athletes across nineteen teams and, only one woman in the Women’s World Tour,” commented Phil Liggett, “Currently, only 150 African riders are competing in Men’s World Tour, Women’s World Tour, Pro, Continental and National Teams from Africa. Investing in this plan now, could not have come at a better time.” Liggett added. 

The Foundation’s founding ambassadors include African Continental Road Champion and World Tour rider, Ryan Gibbons and multiple South African National Road Champion and Women’s World Tour rider, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio. “We are currently onboarding African Cycling Ambassadors from Rwanda, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Morocco, Burkina Faso and Algeria, in order to raise awareness of the Foundation and our goal to boost diversity in the cycling world.” noted Rebecca Eliot, founder of the PROTOUCH Africa project and The Phil Liggett Foundation. 

PROTOUCH Africa understands that it is imperative that Africa gets more competitive racing opportunities, in order to properly prepare the raw talent that exists on our continent. “There are currently only six UCI tours in Africa and, the administration involved in getting African riders visas, challenges with culture and language all add complexity to the toughest challenge that our athletes face – that of funding.” added Eliot. 

The step-up from club racing in Africa to the UCI Continental races is limited to just four UCI Continental teams – two in Rwanda, one in Morocco and PROTOUCH Pro Cycling, as well as the Eritrean National Team. The majority of these Continental teams are primarily self-funded. This lack of funding impacts heavily on the ability to afford racing for long periods in Europe due to the costs involved in financing flights, accommodation and vehicle hire.

“By comparison in 2019 most of these costs were covered by race organisers in Asia, making this a more attractive source of events to improve the level of racing for African riders in the shorter term. Unfortunately, the pandemic has restricted this over the past 18 months so, racing has been limited and consequently, a step back in development, together with increased expenses associated with racing in Europe,” Eliot advised. 

Eliot continued, “Even with these restrictions it is very heartening for African cycling to see the cream rise to the top with Biniam Ghirmay Hailu from Eritrea achieving a silver medal in the U23 road race at this year’s UCI World Championships in Belgium.  Biniam is currently riding in Europe for Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux World Tour team, having made a mid-season mover from Team DELKO.”

A NEW BUSINESS MODEL

The launch of the PROTOUCH AFRICA Fan Engagement Platform, using Swiss-based Blocksport technology, brings about a new business model with the aim to revolutionize professional cycling in Africa. Driving new revenue streams [beyond sponsorship] with offerings that engages and monetizes the African Cycling fan base. 

Alongside an African Talent Agency, PROTOUCH Africa plans to leverage the reach of over 1,5 million followers already engaged with African Cycling. As this community grows, it plans to monetize this through the Foundations’ merchandise store and a range of soon-to-be launched digital NFT’s. 

“NFTs are a key component, of our commercial strategy moving forward. Fans can explore, trade and build the ultimate African Cycling NFT Collection on the Blockchain,” announced Eliot. The digital art collection features images of over 100 top performing African road cyclists, as well as some the upcoming future stars, all signed by the athletes and Phil. These will be minted next month and will be one of the planned revenue streams for the Athlete Impact Fund, managed by The Phil Liggett Foundation. “We believe that this will bring the fans closer and be part of this incredible African ATHLETE IMPACT FUND story, from the beginning!”

 The funds raised will assist in further opportunities for African riders, through the PROTOUCH Pro Cycling Team as well through our partnerships with ROULER POUR RWANDA who will be hosting Rwandan and South African riders in France and, our partnership with The Flandrien Hotel in Belgium.

To kick-off fundraising for the Foundation, a series of VIP Premier screenings of the recently released film Phil Liggett – the Voice of Cycling are planned, with the first screening at The Flandrien Hotel, Belgium on Tuesday 28 September 2021, followed by additional screenings in South Africa during October and November 2021. “The life of legendary television commentator Phil Liggett MBE is entwined with the history of professional cycling that has spanned five decades, 16 Olympic games and 49 Tour de France. We are blessed to have Phil behind our vision to take Africa to world,” concluded Eliot.

For more information

Rebecca Eliot

+27 83 6564632

rebecca@protouch.africa

 

 

DATE: TUESDAY 28 September 2021

TIME (ON SITE): 12:30-16:30 CET

LIVESTREAM ONLY (DETOUR PODCAST)

13:30-14:30 CET / SAST  & 12:30-13:30 UK Time

07:30-08:30 USA EDT / 21:30-22:30 AUS EST

The physical event will involve lunch followed by press briefing, hotel and gallery tour and (optional) film premiere viewing.

LOCATION: Flandrien Hotel, Hollebeekstraat 6, Brakel, Belgium +32 (0)484 796 443

ENQUIRIES AND REGISTRATION (REQUIRED):

  • JAMIE ANDERSON – info@flandrienhotel.com
  • REBECCA ELIOT – rebecca@protouch.africa

MORE ON THE FLANDRIEN HOTEL AND ART GALLERY  The Flandrien Hotel is a boutique hotel that is 100% geared towards serving cycling tourists & teams. The hotel is located in Brakel Belgium, in the heart of the Flemish Ardennes – one of the world’s foremost cycling hotspots. In addition to offering accommodation that is tailored to the needs of cyclists, the hotel also features a seminar centre and a commercial Art Gallery that exhibits artworks by internationally recognised cycling photographers, graphic artists and sculptors. Accommodation is available for those who would like to stay at the Flandrien Hotel for the launch event. Website: www.flandrienhotel.com.