Nelson Mandela was one of sport's great communicators

“Sport has the power to change the world…it has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.”

Nelson Mandela, Laureus World Sports Awards, 2000, Monaco

Sport lost one of its great icons this week when Nelson Mandela finally lost his fight for life at the grand old age of 95.

The Patron of Calacus client Laureus, Mandela's speech is a mantra that has been a beacon for our organization, where sport transcends cultures and language to provide opportunities to inspire and build respect.

Sport is such an important part of our lives now with domestic and international sports events attracting fans and spectators, sponsors and investors from all over the world.

Mandela knew this and the small gesture of wearing a Springbok jersey when presenting the Rugby World Cup trophy in 1995 to Francois Pienaar went a long way to establishing unity in South Africa.

But whether it is on the topic of sport, politics or humanity, Mandela can teach us all great lessons about communication.

While some, including the former Archbishop Desmond Tutu, suggested that Mandela's spell in prison actually benefited him by bringing calm and clarity to his struggle for racial equality in South Africa, his authenticity was compelling.

He was always passionate, sincere and emotive in his speeches, talking from the heart with a strength that inspired and moved millions.

Just like human rights activist Martin Luther King, he got his key message about equality for all into every speech he made even if each one sounded different from the last, speaking sincerely to the audience in front of him and relating his situation to theirs.

He was always focused on the big picture, unbowed in his determination to see his seemingly impossible dream become reality through positivity and a humble demeanour that contributed to the greatness of his achievements.

Even after spending more than a quarter of a century in prison, he still remained positive and respectful, even to those who had wronged him, maintaining a smile which enraptured anyone who saw him speak or had the fortune to meet him.

Being friendly and open with everyone he met, whether they were a world leader or a bell boy, never looking down on anyone, he provoked loyalty and admiration that went far beyond his own political agenda.

His loss is a great one but let us hope his vision and humility serve as examples to follow and that his memory endures. Somehow, I don't think there is any risk of him being forgotten.

I'd like to leave you with another Mandela quote - one which Calacus abides by and should be a mantra for us all: “We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”