June 12, 2013
A touch of Sri Lanka ‘walked’ into a corner of central London today.
Traditional dancers, dressed in the gold and red synonymous of the island country, performed to the rhythmic beat of an authentic Sri Lankan drummer.
Then the many candles of an intricate golden lamp were lit to mark the beginning of a very special announcement taking Laureus, along with one of our Academy Member legends to the beautiful country.
It was then announced that in November, England cricket legend and Laureus World Sports Academy Member Sir Ian Botham will cross Sri Lanka on his latest epic walk to raise funds for charity.
Since the mid-1980s, Sir Ian has taken part in a series of high profile walks, including John O’Groats to Land’s End, the 9 Valleys in Wales and the Hannibal Walk in the Alps.
But about his Sri Lanka adeventure, he said: “It’s probably one of the craziest walks I’ve ever taken on, 160 miles, it’ll be very hot, but great fun! I have really strong connections with Sri Lanka and I know if I can raise a lot of money it is going to do so much good for young people there.”
After the Tsunami of 2004, which devastated parts of the country, killed 35,000 people and displaced over 500,000, Sir Ian went to Sri Lanka, on behalf of Laureus, to assess the situation and see what could be done to help. He saw how the creation of a sports-based project in the town of Seenigama could play a significant role in the rebuilding of the community.
Since then Laureus has worked with the Foundation of Goodness in Sri Lanka to help build sports facilities and supply coaching for young people in the rural communities of the south around Seenigama. Here, sport has helped the region to recover its community spirit and rebuild lives, especially through the love of cricket.
Joining Sir Ian at the launch was Sri Lankan cricket star Kumar Sangakkara, who is an ambassador of the Foundation of Goodness. He was keen to point out that following the ending of the country’s civil war, Laureus is working again with the Foundation of Goodness to support the creation of a second project elsewhere in Sri Lanka.
He said: “The real fight now is to try and mirror [the work in Seenigama] and have the same benefits in the north as well. That’s the drive and ambition; to set up in Mankulum and to spread the word that sport is the best way unite communities in Sri Lanka.”
The official launch of Beefy’s Big Sri Lanka Walk, which will take place from November 1 – 8, was at The Grange Hotel near St.Paul’s Cathedral in London, attended by former British Paralympic star Tanni Grey-Thompson and former Indian cricket captain Kapil Dev, both Laureus Academy Members.
Sir Ian also paid tribute to the supporters and sponsors of the walk – SriLankan Airlines, Sri Lanka Tourism, Paradise Vacations UK, who will be providing packages for enthusiasts who want to join him for the Walk, with part of the proceeds going to Laureus, and Grange Hotels, who have been supporting all the planning stages and who will be continuing to support Laureus through Foundation for Goodness and the Murali Harmony Cup.
Head over to the official Beefy Sri Lanka Walk website for all the info.