Morné joins Beefy for Big Walk
Cape Town - Morné du Plessis, one of the great names of South African rugby, is to join his fellow Laureus World Sports Academy Member Sir Ian Botham on his most challenging walk for charity yet, across Sri Lanka.
Du Plessis, who was manager of the Springboks team which won the Rugby World Cup in 1995 and is now chairperson of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation in South Africa, will team up with England cricket legend Botham on his epic attempt to walk from Kilinochchi in the north of the island to Seenigama in the south next month.
Funds raised from Beefy’s Big Sri Lanka Walk, staged with the backing of Sri Lankan Airlines and Sri Lanka Tourism, will go to help sports-based community projects, including those operated by the Foundation of Goodness in Sri Lanka with the support of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.
Du Plessis said: “Nothing Sir Ian Botham does surprises me, but his latest challenge is certainly something exceptional. Ian is a passionate and determined supporter of the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and as a Laureus Academy Member myself the least I can do is go and join him for some of the Big Beefy Walk.
“The charity walks he has undertaken - especially John O’Groats to Land’s End so many times - are the mark of the man and his commitment to help people wherever he can. He is a good man and I will be doing my best to support him and our Laureus projects in Sri Lanka.
“I am told he is a tough man to keep up with on these walks, but I will be doing my best to hang on for as long as I can, and I already know he will tease me about how soft us rugby guys are!”
Since the mid-1980s, Botham has taken part in a series of high profile walks, but he admits that the 160 miles route from Kilinochchi to Seenigama, which he will attempt from November 1-8, will be his most challenging yet.
Four great Indian and Sri Lankan cricketers - Sourav Ganguly, Mahela Jayawardene, Muttiah Muralitharan and Kumar Sangakarra - have also announced that they will be joining Botham.
Botham says: “Without doubt this is going to be the toughest walk I have ever undertaken. It’s going to be hot and humid, but I am going to do it. I am hoping to raise lots of money and awareness because I know it’s going to do so much good for young people in Sri Lanka. Having Morné and the cricket guys alongside me will be a big encouragement.”
After the Tsunami of 2004, which devastated parts of the country, killed 35 000 people and displaced over 500 000, Botham went to Sri Lanka, on behalf of Laureus, to assess the situation and see what could be done to help. He saw how the creation of a sports-based project in the village of Seenigama could play a significant role in the rebuilding of the community.
Since then Laureus has worked with the Foundation of Goodness in Sri Lanka by providing funds and expertise to help build sports facilities and supply coaching for young people in the rural communities. Seenigama Sports has helped the region to recover its community spirit and rebuild lives, especially through the love of cricket.
Now, many years on, following the ending of the country’s civil war, Laureus, working again with the Foundation of Goodness, is supporting the creation of a second project, this time in the town of Mankulam, in the north of the country, helping children from the two communities to play sport together and to learn to live in harmony.
Over the years, Botham has taken part in walks which have raised substantial funds for charity, including John O’Groats to Land’s End, the 9 Valleys in Wales and the Hannibal Walk in the Alps.
Beefy’s Big Sri Lanka Walk has been made possible by official Walk partners Sri Lankan Airlines and Sri Lanka Tourism and associate sponsors Global Rubber Industries (Pvt) Ltd, Lycamobile and PruHealth. Paradise Vacations UK are providing packages for those who wish to join Botham on the Walk, and those who wish to join for a day or more can sign up at www.beefysbigsrilankawalk.com
Botham said: “A great many organisations and people have been working hard for a long time to put my Sri Lanka Walk together and I would like to thank them. They have all shown their commitment to help young people and I could not be setting off on this great adventure without their backing.”