POSTED: Wednesday December 2nd 2009


Sri Lankan children give England cricket hero an enthusiastic welcome


•    ‘Coming back to Galle has been heart-warming and very, very emotional’
- says Laureus World Sports Academy member Sir Ian Botham

•    Pictures of Sir Ian Botham in Sri Lanka available on

GALLE, Sri Lanka, December 2, 2009 - Laureus World Sports Academy
member and England cricket legend Sir Ian Botham received a hero’s
welcome from hundreds of excited children as he paid an emotional
return to the Galle area of Sri Lanka, ahead of the fifth anniversary
of the 2004 Tsunami Disaster.

Sir Ian had visited Galle shortly after the Tsunami struck on
December 26, 2004, to see the damage for himself and gauge what the
Laureus Sport for Good Foundation could do to help. As a result of his
visit, Laureus has been providing support to the Seenigama Sport for
Life project has been using sport to rebuild community spirit in the

As he took part in training sessions with the children at the
project, Sir Ian recalled the events of five years ago. He said: “Like
everyone else, I watched with horror the Tsunami Disaster on TV. I
wanted to come and see for myself, but nothing prepared me for what I
found. I had been to Galle before when I was covering cricket and
stayed at a house just along the beach – it wasn’t there any more. I
can still recall the clock on the old Test ground in Galle frozen at
‘9.25am’ on December 26.

“Once the immediate relief effort was over, it was clear to me that
sport could play an important part in giving people a sense of hope. At
my suggestion Laureus decided to fund a sports coordinator for five
villages around Peraliya and Seenigama to channel the energies of the
children into competition, and to take their minds off their difficult
living conditions.

“The Seenigama Sport for Life project now involves boys and girls, aged
from six upwards, taking part in inter-village sports leagues with
matches and training sessions. Sport as we know can foster togetherness
and team spirit, and today, coming back, I have seen for myself the
fruit of those endeavours and it’s heart-warming and very, very
emotional,” added Sir Ian.

Having specially flown to Sri Lanka from South Africa, where he is
commentating for Sky TV on the England cricket tour, Sir Ian took part
in a cricket coaching session, then presented the prizes at an Under 13
match between Seenigama Sri Wimala Buddhi and Sri Sumangala College.

He also met members of the Seenigama Under 15 team who won the Super 8
- KAF International Youth Cricket Carnival in Kuala Lumpur last month.
Sir Ian said: “This was a remarkable triumph. These rural lads from
humble backgrounds obtained a passport for the first time, took a plane
journey and competed internationally. Most had never even visited the
Sri Lanka capital of Colombo. This is something that you could never
have imagined happening five years ago. A real sign of progress.”

Kushil Gunasekera, founder and trustee of the Foundation of Goodness,
who is also manager of Sri Lankan spin bowler and world record wicket
taker Muttiah Muralitharan, said: “We would like to express our
heartfelt gratitude to the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation for their
generosity and kindness over the last three years. With their support
our children and youth have surpassed all expectations, on and off the
sports field. These rural disadvantaged children and youth are able to
hone their talent and excel thanks to the facilities and opportunities
provided for them, which could never have been imagined before the
tsunami and is today a testimony to the compassion of those all over
the world who were moved to make a difference.” Also in Seenigama to
support Sir Ian was Sri Lankan cricketing icon Chaminda Vaas.

Sir Ian Botham also met 12-year-old Sriyan Chamod Dilshan, winner
of the Laureus Sport for Good – IWC drawing competition 2009. His
drawing, entitled ‘‘Team Spirit’ with four young people holding hands
in a circle has now become the motif for the exclusive engraving on the
back of a limited special edition Portuguese Chrono-Automatic, made of
stainless steel and with a dial in the unmistakeable Laureus blue. Part
of the proceeds from sales will go to Laureus supported projects such
as the one in Sri Lanka.

World renowned Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen is a Global
Partner of Laureus and has supported the work of the Laureus Sport for
Good Foundation since 2005. In 2006 it launched its first special
edition watch in aid of the Foundation. Many hundreds of children from
Laureus-supported projects around the world took part in this year’s
competition and there was a wonderful diversity of creativity right
across the colourful entry. Sir Ian presented Sriyan with a prize from
IWC and a donation was also made to Foundation for Goodness.

Sir Ian Botham is one of the members of the Laureus World Sports
Academy, a unique association of 46 of the greatest living sporting
legends. The Academy members volunteer their time to act as global
ambassadors for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation by using their
influence to highlight the plight of disadvantaged children and
supporting humanitarian projects around the world.

The mission of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation is to utilise
the power of sport to address social challenges through a global
programme of sports related community development initiatives, using
sport as a tool for social change. The Foundation supports almost 70
projects worldwide and since its inception Laureus has raised €20
million for projects which have helped to improve the lives of one
million young people.

Laureus is a universal movement that celebrates the power of sport to
bring people together as a force for good. Laureus is composed of three
core elements - the Laureus World Sports Academy, the Laureus Sport for
Good Foundation and the Laureus World Sports Awards - which
collectively celebrate sporting excellence and harness the power of
sport to promote social change.

For more information contact:     

Mal Thompson

Laureus Global Communications

Tel:  +44 20 7514 2863  




Kate Brewer

Tel: +44(0)7500 832532


Video footage available for download as follows:

FTP Address:

Username:  laureus-srilanka

Password:  base5

To receive regular updates and to read Sir Ian’s first blog, along
with the chance to win an exclusive Ian Botham signed cricket bat,
please visit:


The Patron of Laureus is Nelson Mandela. At the inaugural Laureus
World Sports Awards in 2000, President Mandela said: “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. Sport can awaken
hope where there was previously only despair.” This has become the
philosophy of Laureus; the driving force behind its work.

The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy are: Giacomo
Agostini, Marcus Allen, Severiano Ballesteros, Franz Beckenbauer, Boris
Becker, Ian Botham, Sergey Bubka, Bobby Charlton, Sebastian Coe, Nadia
Comaneci, Yaping Deng, Marcel Desailly, Kapil Dev, David Douillet,
Emerson Fittipaldi, Sean Fitzpatrick, Dawn Fraser, Cathy Freeman, Tanni
Grey-Thompson, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Mika Häkkinen, Tony Hawk, Mike
Horn, Miguel Indurain, Michael Johnson, Kip Keino, Franz Klammer, Dan
Marino, John McEnroe, Edwin Moses (Chairman), Nawal El Moutawakel,
Robby Naish, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova, Alexei Nemov, Jack
Nicklaus, Gary Player, Morné du Plessis, Hugo Porta, Vivian Richards,
Monica Seles, Mark Spitz, Daley Thompson, Alberto Tomba, Steve Waugh
and Katarina Witt.

The Laureus Academy members volunteer their services as global
ambassadors for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which was set up
to promote the use of sport as a tool for social change. The Foundation
addresses social challenges through a worldwide programme of sports
related community development initiatives. Since its inception Laureus
has raised €20 million for projects which have helped improve the lives
of more than one million young people. The Foundation addresses issues
in particular involving, but not limited to, young people impacted by
social exclusion, gun and gang violence, discrimination, community
integration, peace and reconciliation, and education.

The Laureus World Sports Awards is the premier global sports awards
honouring the greatest sportsmen and women across all sports each year.
The winners are selected by the ultimate sports jury - the 46 members
of the Laureus World Sports Academy, the living legends of sport
honouring the great athletes of today. The Awards are presented at an
annual Awards Ceremony, attended by global figures from sport and
entertainment, which is broadcast to 180 countries.

Laureus was founded by its Patrons Daimler and Richemont and is
supported by its Global Partners Mercedes-Benz, IWC Schaffhausen and


Mercedes-Benz, the world’s oldest automaker, can look back on a unique
tradition. It is the most valuable automotive premium brand which
stands for quality, safety, comfort, fascinating design and sustainable
mobility. Mercedes-Benz enjoys an excellent reputation, particularly in
the area of safety technology. Many pioneering technical innovations
that are standard automotive features today were first seen in a
Mercedes-Benz car. The Mercedes-Benz engineers will in future
consistently reinvent the automobile – with the same enthusiasm and
innovation like Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz in 1886. Mercedes-Benz
is a Global Partner of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Since the
beginning of the Foundations’ operations in 2000, Mercedes-Benz has
shared and supported the goals and values of this worldwide charity
programme where sports play the core role in the fight against social
issues - Laureus has become a vital element of the corporate social
responsibility programme of

IWC Schaffhausen

For more than a century, IWC Schaffhausen has been producing
precision products of complex functionality and outstanding
user-friendliness for watch connoisseurs who expect more from their
watch than just having an accurate timekeeper. Since its foundation in
1868, the International Watch Company has built up a reputation as a
long-established Swiss watchmaking firm with a passion for inventions,
innovative solutions and technical refinements. Today the brand is more
successful than at any time in its history. IWC uses this strength in a
programme of corporate social responsibility initiatives at home and
abroad. In 2005, IWC entered into a long-term commitment to become a
Global Partner of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.


Vodafone, the world’s leading international mobile communications
group, with over 303 million proportionate customers and equity
interests in 27 countries across five continents and a further 40
partner networks worldwide, is supporting Laureus as a new Global
Partner, with a five year agreement which began in 2008 and concludes
in 2012. Vodafone is a long-standing supporter of sport sponsorship and
is pleased to be part of an organisation that celebrates sporting
excellence both at a grass roots level through the humanitarian work
worldwide of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and at elite level
through the annual Laureus World Sports Awards, which honours the
achievements of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen.

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Keywords · Laureaus · ICC · Ian Botham · cricket

Name: Mal Thompson
Organization: Laureus Foundation
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7514 2749

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