Botham in Sri Lanka and how sport can change the world

I get to do a great many exciting things in my job.

I see new countries and places and people I wouldn’t normally expect to meet.

I get to make a real impact on the lives and futures of individuals and businesses both large and small.

But what inspires me more than anything, is making a difference. Playing a small part in making positive changes to the lives of people who are born into or have experienced due to no fault of their own difficult circumstances and who have often been forgotten or ignored by the communities that surround them.

This weekend, I am in northern Sri Lanka with Sir Ian Botham and Michael Vaughan, two greats of English cricket.

They are out here on behalf of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation to provide support and raise awareness for one of the 80+ projects that Laureus backs around the world.

Sir Ian came to Sri Lanka after the tsunami in 2004 and has returned on more than one occasion to see the recovery the country has made since the devastation.

We've visited an area today called Mankulum in the north, blighted for years by fighting between government forces and the Tamil Tigers.

There are thousands of landmines and unexploded devices all over the region but the Foundation of Goodness, which runs a successful project in the south, is planning to build an awe-inspiring sports complex here in the next few months.

It is humbling to be amongst the young people here, including two youngsters from the southern project who have got careers in sport and a life away from the troubles of their youth thanks to the opportunities that Laureus has been able to provide.

It's yet another example of Laureus using sport to build harmony and understanding amongst divided communities and provide hope to young people in areas where there is no hope to speak of.

Over the years, Laureus has raised and distributed tens of millions of dollars to support the very best youth projects around the world which use sport to help change the lives of young people.

Whether it is the communities here in Sri Lanka, disabled children in northern India or the disenfranchised from the inner cities in the UK, Laureus is proving that sport makes a difference. 

Laureus is helping youth workers and volunteers to realise their vision of changing the lives of young people through sport.

That’s why so many of the world’s greatest living sports legends, from Martina Navratilova and Boris Becker, to Bobby Charlton and Marcel Desailly, Sergey Bubka, Marvellous Marvin Hagler and Tony Hawk give up their time to help raise funds and the profile of the organisation which in turn benefits more international projects.

Nelson Mandela said that sport had the power to change the world in a way nothing else can - and like so many things the great man has said, he is right.