As I board the plane at London Heathrow Airport I could hear whispers from behind the curtains. The cabin crew had heard there were some famous sportsmen and women on the flight! Arriving back in Abu Dhabi the sense of excitement was not just in the air, all the talk is of Monday’s awards and who else would be visiting the capital of the UAE.
I checked into the hotel last night just in time to catch one of the craziest games of rugby I have ever seen, France versus Scotland in the RBS Six Nations, so first thing on my schedule today is to seek out some of the game’s biggest names to get their view (Sean Fitzpatrick, Hugo Porta and Michael Lynagh among others). And that’s the wonderful thing about the awards – you’re only ever a few feet away from some of sports biggest names and they’re more than willing to talk to you about the thing that binds us all – the power of sport, not just to entertain us, but also to be a force for good. I can’t wait for the cabin crew to find out Morgan Freeman is on board!
After three days of hectic interviews, highly competitive golf and racing with the Academy members, a game of football with local children should have been a relaxing way to start the day of the awards – It wasn’t! But then what do you expect when professional sportsmen and women take part, namely Daley Thompson, Butch James, Hugo Porta and Nawal El Moutawakel. Watching the launch of a new Laureus project right here in Abu Dhabi really showcased the work the academy does week in, week out.
Sore feet, sore bum but a great sense of satisfaction.
The final day was a huge success and I feel we were able to raise decent levels of awareness and get our message across to the right people.
15 of us set off from Wembley stadium in the morning under fairly clear skies. Being England this didn’t last very long and, after about 15 minutes, the showers came and we were all drenched. Our spirits remained high, helped by Lucy and Tola from Choice FM who you’d expect to have smiles on their faces whatever the weather. Read more
Monday’s stage started with a visit to Vodafone HQ in Newbury. I was joined by fellow Laureus World Sports Academy members Sebastian Coe, Sean Fitzpatrick and (of course!) Hugo Porta, as well as Vodafone Foundation advisor Matthew Pinsent. Vodafone have provided their full backing to my campaign and I was more than happy to have a Q&A session at their offices.
However, at the back of my mind I was always thinking forward to what would be the longest stage of the journey – 75 miles from Newbury to Brent over countless gruelling hills. Read more