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VODAFONE pledges to donate up to 75k connections as part of Wimbledon ‘Connect Better’ Challenge

Vodafone, the Official Connectivity Partner to The Championships, Wimbledon, has pledged to donate up to 75,000 connections over the course of this year’s event to help people and sports clubs cross the digital divide.

The new ‘Connect Better’ challenge will take the on-court competition to new heights this year, with Vodafone challenging the players to hit their fastest serve and help them smash the donation target of 75,000 connections. 

Vodafone will be tracking the fastest serves achieved every day across the gentlemen’s, ladies’ and wheelchair singles competitions and will match the total miles per hour (MPH) in donated SIMs, tech and resources. 

To serve up a grand total in the tens of thousands, Vodafone will be turning the players’ power into real-world impact by multiplying the final MPH number by 14, the number of days the event runs. 

Based on the fastest serves recorded by IBM during last year’s Wimbledon, this could mean 71,148 donations provided to people, businesses, and communities without access to digital connectivity. Game on. 

Vodafone ambassador and British tennis legend, Tim Henman, commented; “I’m calling on all the tennis players at this year’s Championships to hit their fastest serves, not just for the glory of the game, but to support Vodafone’s Connect Better challenge. Each powerful serve will directly contribute to donating essential digital resources to those who need them most.”

The initiative comes as research by Vodafone uncovers the impact of the digital divide on grassroots sports and accessibility, with 43% of Brits admitting they’d find it difficult to identify opportunities to get involved in sports without digital connectivity, while a third (33%) would struggle to do so for their children. 

Nearly a third (31%) say they use digital connectivity to find out information about local sports clubs, book themselves into classes or sessions (27%) and to get hold of required kit and equipment (18%).

Over a quarter (26%) rely on the internet to connect with other people, such as other parents, who are involved in local sports clubs, while one in eight (12%) use it to book their children into sports classes.

In fact, 63% of new sports club sign ups – for adults and parents doing so for their children – are all done online.

As well as the impact on participation, digital access is key for viewing sports, 42% of the population admit they are reliant on the internet during Wimbledon to check results and look at the order of play (38%), while almost a quarter (24%) watch the matches online during the event.

The challenges presented by digital exclusion extend to the sports clubs themselves, with research conducted by Vodafone’s charity partner, Sported, revealing that 66% of Sported’s member clubs do not consider themselves well connected. In fact, nearly a quarter (23%) say they are poorly connected – or not connected at all.

A further 88% would find improving digital skills from online resources and support valuable to their business.   

Sarah Kaye, Chief Executive of charity Sported, said: “Poor connectivity and a lack of resources severely limits the potential of sports clubs in deprived communities. 

Access to the internet, modern devices, and essential digital skills are crucial for these clubs and organisations to thrive. Unfortunately, many are left behind due to a lack of these resources, restricting their opportunities for growth, collaboration, and exposure.

71% said a free 6-month SIM plan would be valuable to how they operate. That is exactly why programmes like Vodafone’s everyone.connected are essential in helping to bridge the digital divide. It not only equips these difference-makers with connectivity but also fosters a sense of community and inclusion, ensuring no one is left behind in our increasingly connected world.”

The research from Vodafone also found that over two thirds of adults (67%) admit that having access to the internet plays a huge role in keeping them fit and healthy and ensuring they take part in sport and exercise.

Nicki Lyons, Chief Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Officer at Vodafone UK, adds: “As the Official Connectivity Partner to The Championships, we recognise that the digital divide extends to the world of sport. Many individuals, communities and businesses lack the necessary connectivity to fully participate in and enjoy sports activities. This divide poses a barrier to accessing training resources, engaging with sports communities, and even promoting local clubs effectively.  

Our everyone.connected initiative is designed to help address these challenges. By providing essential digital resources and support, we aim to empower sports enthusiasts and the organisers of grassroots clubs and businesses – who are often volunteers – to ensure that more people in sport can benefit from the opportunities that connectivity brings.”

The Connect Better challenge is part of Vodafone’s everyone.connected programme, which aims to help four million people and businesses cross the digital divide by the end of 2025.

The gap between people with internet access and people without it is called the digital divide. For people negatively affected by the digital divide in the UK, it’s difficult to complete everyday tasks, such as accessing online learning or staying in touch with loved ones.

Vodafone believes connectivity is essential and everyone should have access to the opportunities it provides. To date, the company has helped over 2 million people and businesses cross the digital divide by working with partners like Wimbledon to continue to donate mobile connectivity and technology to those who need it most, providing free support to digitally transform and upskill businesses and communities and by offering targeted, affordable tariffs and services that make being connected super accessible.

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