Ian Botham completes 160 mile walk across Sri Lanka

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November 8

Hundreds of children in their smartest school uniforms line the dirt track lanes of a leafy Sri Lankan village. They wave little flags; the marks of the UK and Sri Lanka lit by a magnificent sun.

Gradually the cheers begin throughout the village.

Ian Botham, the cricket legend who has been walking across Sri Lanka, is arriving to complete his 160 mile journey through Sri Lanka in their very own village, Seenigama; a place he first visited almost ten years ago in far sober circumstances.

Back then, just weeks after the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004, the area had been almost totally destroyed. Little short of a decade on and the sense of joy emanating from the Beefy Walk group that they were finishing, and finishing here amongst young faces of such happiness, was clear to see

Beefy said: "It's all over and its been terrific, the reception here in Seenigama was magnificent, having all the children here particularly. I remember what it was like in 2004 and 2005 after the tsunami and you would never believe it was the same place."

Botham visited on behalf of Laureus, to assess the post-tsunami situation to see what could be done to help. He saw how the creation of a sports-based project in the village 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 by providing funds and expertise to help build sports facilities and supply coaching for young people in the rural communities.
Seenigama Sports has helped the region to recover its community spirit and rebuild lives, especially through the love of cricket. And Beefy's Big Sri Lanka Walk has raised more than €160,000 to support this work.

Thinking of the future, Beefy said: "The point of the walk was to mirror what has been achieved here in the north, and I think we are going to achieve that, from the walk alone and the awareness it has created. I'm proud of all the team and pleased that Laureus and I could be involved."

Alongside Sir Ian as he finished Beefy’s Big Sri Lanka Walk were Sri Lanka’s greatest cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan, who is closely involved in the running of the Foundation of Goodness, Australia’s former cricket captain Allan Border and South African rugby legend Morné du Plessis.

Murali said to Laureus.com: "Ian coming here has been one of the greatest things to happen to us, for the awareness it has brought for what we do at the Foundation of Goodness. Many thanks to Laureus as well for putting everything together with Botham's team."

If completing the walk had not been emotional enough, finishing at the Foundation of Goodness in Seenigama, a place close to Beefy's heart, made it all the more touching.

Botham showed the rest of the walkers around the Foundation of Goodness complex that is changing livers of young Sri Lankan's in the area by offering sport and education opportunities.

The amazing Sir Ian has maintained an average pace of 20 miles a day for eight days in the Sri Lankan heat to reach Seenigama and was joined along the way by cricket greats such as Australian captains Steve Waugh and Allan Border and Indian and Sri Lankan stars Sourav Ganguly, Sunil Gavaskar, Mahela Jayawardene, Muttiah Muralitharan and Kumar Sangakarra, plus rugby legend Morné du Plessis, have all joined Sir Ian at various stages to support him.

If you want to show your support to Beefy and his efforts please visit http://www.justgiving.com/BeefysSriLankaWalk