II: Rex Clementine: “Sportsmen bring people together, politicians keep failing – Sir Ian Botham
‘Impossible is nothing,’ is the motto of footwear giants Adidas. They may have got those words looking at Sir Ian Botham terrorizing the Australians during many Ashes campaigns and particularly during the summer of 1981, popularly known as Botham’s Ashes. His 389 Test wickets is still an England record for most Test wickets. But that’s half the story. With the bat he contributed over 5000 Test runs including 14 centuries. Botham was a cricketing genius and after retirement, he has won as many fans as he had as the world’s top all-rounder for a decade.
Sir Ian Botham’s Schedule
November 1st – Killinochchi Central College – Mankulam Cricket Ground
November 2nd – Anuradhapura Cargills Food City – Mihinthale School Ground
November 3rd – Sigiriya Rock – Dambulla Stadium
November 4th – Kandy, Cargills Food City – Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage
November 5th – Colombo, Galle Face Green – Premadasa Stadiu
November 6th – Hambantota Cargills Food City – Hambantota Public Ground
November 7th – Martara Cargills Food City – The Fortress Hotel
November 8th –Galle Cargills Food City – Seenigama Cricket Grounds\
Walks will commence at 8:00 am, each day. By the end of next week, he will have thousands of new Sri Lankan fans as he walks from Mankulam to Seenigama, covering a distance of 160 kilometres to raise funds to put up a state of the art sports village in Mankulam like the one at Seenigama run by the Foundation of Goodness. After witnessing the plight of dying young leukemia patients in 1977, Botham undertook charity walks. So far, there have been 12 such walks and millions of dollars have gone into leukemia research, as England’s Ashes hero attempts to make the world a better place. “I have done about 10,000 miles now and I am ready to rock and roll here in Sri Lanka. We have collected about 20 million Pounds in our previous walks,” Botham recalled.
“I am proud of what I have done,” he said during the media briefing. Asked whether other sportsmen could do more to raise the standards of the underprivileged, Botham said, “We as sportsmen have already done it. Politicians keep failing. As Nelson Mandela said, sportsmen keep doing more than politicians do to bring the people together.”
His eight day walk from the north to the south of Sri Lanka will start from Killinochchi and will pass towns like Anuradhapura, Dambulla, Kandy, Colombo, Hambantota, Matara, Galle and conclude at Seenigama, where the Foundation of Goodness run a charity to help the people in and around the village who were severely affected by the tsunami.
“A journalist in Sri Lanka asked me why don’t you take up a walk in Sri Lanka. I said I will think about it and then I thought why not,” said Botham. The journalist who asked the question from Botham was Professor Michael Roberts, when several ex-cricketers attended a media briefing during the 2011 World Cup in Colombo.
Botham said that he wanted to raise funds to set up a project in the north such as the one at Seenigama, where state of the art sports facilities help youngsters to achieve greater heights. Already two youngsters benefiting from the charity have reached international standards. Pulina Tharanga has gone onto represent Sri Lanka Under-19 in cricket. He has also been named as the captain of the Tamil Union Under-23 side for next year, while Lakruwan Wijesiri is making an impression in triathlon in international meets. Both athletes are tsunami victims.
“I met one lady in Seenigama and she told me a story that shattered me totally. She said that after the tsunami waves had hit, she couldn’t hold the hands of both her children and she had to let go one child’s hand. That was shocking,” Botham said. Cricket fans too can join Botham throughout his journey.
III. Rex Clementine: “Cricket legends to join Botham during charity walk,” in Island, 31 October 2013
Several leading cricket stars are expected to join Sir Ian Botham’s charity walk from Killinochchi to Seenigama spreading over eight days. The walk titled ‘Beefy’s Big Sri Lankan Walk’ is in aid of the charity Foundation of Goodness is planning to establish in north. Sri Lanka cricketers Muttiah Muralitharan, Kumar Sangakkara and Chaminda Vaas are trustees of the charity run by former Cricket Board Secretary Kushil Gunasekara. The organizers said that the walk will be joined by former India captains Sunil Gavaskar and Sourav Ganguly and Botham’s Ashes rivals Alan Border and Steve Waugh. Former rugby great Morne du Plessis, who managed the 1995 World Cup winning South African team will also join the walk.
The walk that gets underway on the 1st of November will start at 8:00 am each day. On the first day Sir Ian is expected to walk from Killinochchi to Mankulam, the site of the Northern Project of Foundation of Goodness. The walk is expected to take five hours and the former speedster is expected to walk at a speed of seven kilometers an hour. Yesterday, Botham urged Sri Lankans to join his walk. “We have people flying from all over the world to walk with us, who have signed up with Paradise Vacations, our Official Tour Partner. The more walkers the merrier we will be! We are also encouraging everyone to sign up and walk with us for a day,” he said in a statement.
Botham has been a prodigious fundraiser for charitable causes and so far has done 12 long-distance charity walks. His first walk was undertaken while still he was active as a player. His efforts have raised more than 12 million Pounds for charity with most of them going for Leukemia Research.
How much will this walk raise, Botham was asked? “If we say one million, everyone will stop with one million. We will try to raise as much as we can. We are pretty good at highway robberies you know.” His latest walk was in April for Leukemia Research and it raised a total of 1,600,000 British Pounds.
“The Sri Lankan walk is the toughest thing that I have agreed to do. It’s going to be 40 degrees out there. But it’s for a great cause. It’s a tough schedule to keep up, but I am determin
ed. Nothing is going to stop me from completing the Walk,” he added.