Cameron Mofid was not unlike many junior tennis players. He dreamt of pushing his tennis as far as it would take him. But towards the end of last year, he decided to pursue new opportunities. At the time, Mofid was training at the Academia Sanchez-Casal in Florida. Casper Fernandez, a fellow trainee at the academy, whom Mofid had not met, had passed away earlier in the year after a battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a form of bone cancer.
That made Mofid want to recognise Fernandez’s life in some way.
“I sat down over the course of a few days and wrote down 25 innovative ideas for tennis-based organisations,” Mofid said. “I saw that building a platform where professional tennis players could donate their equipment would have a substantial philanthropic impact and subsequently honour Casper.”
That was how Legends United was born. Mofid has since traveled the world to various ATP World Tour events, where the 18-year-old asks players to donate used equipment, like a sweatband, a shirt or sneakers, to be auctioned off for charity.
And on Thursday, in partnership with Nick Kyrgios’ NK Foundation, Legends United launched its online auction to benefit both the NK Foundation and the Sean Karl Foundation, which allocates grants for Ewing’s Sarcoma research in memory of Sean Karl, a former University of Tennessee tennis player who passed away due to the bone cancer in 2014.
Legends United has collected items from more than 50 players thus far, and those will go up for auction in groups.
“I remember how apprehensive I was originally to present it to the players as I wasn’t sure it would be something they’d want to support,” Mofid said. “Now, looking back and seeing how more than 50 of the world’s best athletes have supported the cause by donating and signing their equipment has been extraordinarily special.”
How has a teenager managed to do all of this? Emilio Sanchez Vicario, one of the co-founders of the Academia Sanchez-Casal, helped connect the teenager with tournaments so Mofid could gain internships for the week at different events. It was at his tournaments in Delray Beach, Miami and Madrid where Mofid began to get to know the ATP World Tour’s players and members of their team.
As Mofid was spreading the word about Legends United, he met Christos Kyrgios, Nick Kyrgios’ brother and the CEO of the NK Foundation, which was an ATP ACES For Charity grant recipient this year. The Australian loved Mofid’s enthusiasm, and they’ve partnered ever since.
“It was very exciting when Cameron came to me with this project. He was full of enthusiasm and passion about making this work and getting behind such a worthy cause,” Christos Kyrgios said. “He really wanted to create a vessel that allowed stars of the ATP to give back to the community.”
Kyrgios helped Mofid with some of the logistics, maintaining a home for the charity auction on the NK Foundation’s website. Some of the early items up for bidding include an Andy Murray signed towel, a hat signed by Boris Becker, used sneakers autographed by Pierre-Hugues Herbert, a signed shirt by Viktor Troicki and a number of match-used items from Nick Kyrgios.
While this item is not up for auction yet, one of the most memorable donations for Mofid came from former World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who donated a match-worn shirt during the Mutua Madrid Open. Djokovic has long been dedicated to philanthropy, and his Novak Djokovic Foundation has received two ATP ACES For Charity grants in the past for its tremendous work in supporting childhood development.
“Meeting Novak in Madrid earlier this year was one of the most memorable experiences throughout my travels. I remember how kind and gracious Novak was during our conversation. His immediate reaction was to sign and donate his match shirt from earlier in the day,” Mofid recalled. “The motivation from my time with Novak really pushed me to finish what I started.”
Legends United has brought together the players of the ATP World Tour in a philanthropic way, uniting them to support a common cause: charity.
“I am pleased to say that we have partnered with Legends United to help create an avenue where many top sporting legends both past and present can help us give back to the community and make a positive difference in the world,” Nick Kyrgios said.
Did You Know?
Emilio Sanchez Vicario and Feliciano Lopez, who received an ATP ACES For Charity grant this year for Fundacion Emilio Sanchez Vicario, announced in May the creation of the 2018 Casper Tour, a series of junior tennis events being held to honour the life of Casper Fernandez, the former Academia Sánchez-Casal student who motivated Mofid to create Legends United.