Super Eagles forward Cyriel Dessers has joined the common goal initiative.
He is the fourth Nigerian player to drive social change through football by pledging 1% of his salary.
Dessers will also team up with fellow compatriots William Trust-Ekong, Leon Balogun, and Onome Ebi on football’s growing social impact collective.
Through Common Goal, Dessers will support the work of YEDI in his home country — an organisation that uses football to equip young people with the tools to help build their assets, facilitate their access to health services, and promote their adherence to healthy behaviours.
“Football is the biggest sport in the world, everywhere we travel and go, it’s present,” he said.
“People watch football all over the world, so the men and women who play it have a certain responsibility.
“I choose to support the YEDI-project in Nigeria. Not only because it’s in the country of my roots, but also because of the work they do. To spread awareness about diseases and prevention and to inform and help young adolescents.”
Dessers first became aware of Common Goal through co-founder Juan Mata. Hearing the Spaniards passionate words regarding a footballer’s social responsibility was something that resonated with him deeply.
However, it was following his summer move to K.R.C Genk and after recently acquiring his first international cap for Nigeria, that the 25-year old striker felt his sense of personal responsibility grow.
After some productive talks with fellow members, a discussion with international teammate Troost-Ekong helped assure him that pledging 1% of his wages to the social development of those in need was the right thing to do.
“I saw it [Common Goal] a couple of years ago with Juan Mata and since then it’s been on my mind,” said Dessers.
“This summer I spoke with some people from Common Goal and at the national team I spoke with William Troost-Ekong, they confirmed the ideas I had, so it was an easy decision for me.
“As a football player, you are blessed. You can make a living while doing what you love the most.
“I arrived at a turning point in my career: becoming top scorer in the Netherlands, my first cap for Nigeria. As your name grows a little bit more in the football world, the feeling of responsibility grows.
“This is the perfect moment to give back and help and support the people who need it.”
Not yet at the peak of his powers, the young Nigerian still has plenty of time left in the game to be remembered for his exploits on the pitch.
However, the humble, Belgian-born forward hopes his decision to join at a relatively young age can inspire others to do so too.
“I hope I can inspire people to join us with Common Goal,” he said.
“You can help a lot of people in quite an easy way.
“It’s great to create a legacy and win games on the pitch, but I think it feels also great to [do] this off the pitch.
“This is a first step for me, but I believe we can grow as a group and help each other.”