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!
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. (more…)
This Wednesday (July 8), I’m setting off on a week’s cycle from Manchester to London. The aim of the ride is to highlight the ways in which sport can help to tackle youth crime. On the way, I’ll be visiting projects which use sport to deal with these issues.
The Laureus Sport for Good Foundation has commissioned a special report on the role which sport can play in fighting gang violence and gun and knife crime. I urge you to read this report as it makes very interesting reading. A gang is actually not that different from a sports team, both provide you with a sense of belonging, status and excitement. But, while sport also helps you develop control over your emotions and learn to respect certain boundaries, being in a gang can be destructive. (more…)