For the first time an organisation has brought together developers of grassroots sports from all over the world to share their experiences and to celebrate their contributions. 8 hours every day of the past two days I have sat amongst people invited from over 40 countries around the world that are doing incredible projects in contributing to what President Bill Clinton aptly describes as globalisation of Humanity – through best practices each person in their unique field doing their own thing in different parts of the world, using their gift and talent, little drops here and there, to produce the flood of good causes that would bring change to humanity. Each small effort becomes one more brick in the building of a new world order for which no adequate ism has yet been found, since the ‘death’ of communism and the seeming failure of capitalism!
The assembly of 35 diverse project pilots sharing their experiences provides inspiring stories of courage, of patience and perseverance, belief in self and the cause, mountainous challenges, innumerable ‘failures’ and the little ‘success’! But it is the little success that counts here. We have ‘drunk’ from the mutual words of encouragement, of good counsel and the wisdom of experts in various areas of sports, governance, international agencies (UN and UNICEF), foundations, business, individuals and global sports icons. We have been provided abundant and invaluable inspiration, information, support and promise to take our various projects to the next level. It is apparent that every project has its own Mount Everest to climb and that this summit is providing the motivation to stay the course with the assurance that we are not alone! I start to see the faint outlines of a movement of some sort that will give sports a platform to fully exploit its power to influence the youths and bring about global positive social change.
On Wednesday, we met and listened to Dikembe Mutombo the 7-foot plus giant NBA basketball player from the Democratic Republic of the Congo whose hospital project in his country is helping to saves thousands of lives every day. His story brought tears to many eyes! We also met and listened to HRH Prince Faisal Bin Al Hussain, son of the late ruler of Jordan, whose involvement with sports as a tool for social change and development has become a lesson for emulation in the Middle East and other parts of the world. We have been drinking from the words of experts in different fields, enriching our minds, strengthening our resolve, providing us with guidance, information and knowledge in leadership, innovation, partnerships, communications and best practises. We have visited selected projects in the London area that provide good practical examples of innovation, creativity and enterprise! In short our eyes have been open to fresh ideas and possibilities!
By the time you are reading this the programmes that will culminate in the announcement of winners of the Beyond Sport awards would have been completed. But for me this trip is not about winning an award. Considering the vision of the Wasimi Orile vision, we have only just embarked on our journey. We are still at the starting blocks. How can I be thinking of an award then? My experiences since arriving here, the people I have met, the contacts I have made, the discussions I have heard, the hope I have received, are the greatest awards I shall take away with me.
Last night we had dinner with the Mayor of London in his City hall office overlooking river Thames! I have met and shared experiences with South Africa’s football great, Lucas Radebe, who has started a football academy also in his country. I have shaken the hands of Michael Johnson, the American sprinter and one of the greatest athletes of all time. I have met with other international Athletes from Kenya and the UK whose work in and outside sports inspire and have become additional fuel of inspiration. Kemi Morris, head of CSR of FCMB, flew in from Lagos to lead a team from the bank that has come to support me and identify with the Wasimi Orile project as partners. Two representatives of the Lagos State government are also here identifying with me and making me the envy of many here!
In a few hours time I shall be meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Sir Richard Branson, Tony Blair, Lord Puttman (President of UNICEF), Tim Shriver, Kevin Carroll, Jahangir Khan, Donna de Varona, Sergey Bubka, Senator Bill Bradley, Lord Sebastian Coe, Dame Kelly Holmes, and…….! I would not wish to be anywhere else in the world but here at this moment! Blessed be the Lord!