A Seed germinates: Ian Botham to walk for FOG Charity at Mankulam

Faraz Shauketaly, with Mike O’Shea, in The Sunday Leader, 16 June 2013

KBumar + bothamEnglish cricket legend, Sir Ian Botham has confirmed that he is embarking on his most daring walk ever – all in aid of raising funds for sport in Sri Lanka. ‘Beefy’ whose love for Sri Lanka has matured ever since he first arrived here for the first test that Sri Lanka played, at the Sara Stadium – The Oval Colombo – way back in 1982. The former English Captain and one of England’s most beloved cricket all-rounders, will walk from Mankulam in the former conflict zone to Seenigama in the South, an area that suffered particularly badly during the Tsunami 2004. Announcing the event at a function on London earlier this week, Sir Ian was joined by Sri Lanka’s own star player, Kumar Sangakkara and Indian cricket legend Kapil Dev. They were all present when the well  known sports foundation, Laureus Foundation made the announcement that Sir Ian Botham’s walk will raise funds for a sports complex and school to be built in Mankulam.

Since the mid-1980s, Sir Ian has taken part in a series of high profile walks, including John O’Groats to Land’s End, the 9 Valleys in Wales and the Hannibal Walk in the Alps, but he admits that his bid to walk throughout Sri Lanka from Mankulum in the north to Seenigama in the south is his most daunting yet.

Beefy’s – as he is popularly known – involvement with Sri Lanka started when he played in Sri Lanka’s first Test Match, February 1982 at P Saravanamuttu Stadium, Colombo.  Since then he has visited Sri Lanka many times and has – by his own admission –  fallen in love with the country.

After the 2004 Tsunami, Beefy visited Sri Lanka to see for himself thedevastation that occurred.  Subsequently Laureus, working with the Foundation of Goodness in Sri Lanka, helped build a sports complex in Seenigama.

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 Mankulum, in the north of the country, helping children from the two communities to play sport together and to learn to live in harmony.

Sir Ian said: “Sri Lanka is a country that has had many problems to cope with and I am delighted to do what I can to help. Funds raised from the Walk will go to help the two Foundation of Goodness projects and the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.”

Kumar Sangakkara, who is a trustee of the Foundation of Goodness, said: “Ian has shown amazing friendship for the people of Sri Lanka over the years and everyone is delighted that he will be staging his next walk here.

The itinerary for the walk is demanding, with Beefy walking 20 miles per day.  People are invited to walk along (if they can maintain his pace) and support him along the route.  Sangakkara, Baroness Grey-Thompson, and KapilDev said they will join Beefy for parts of the walk.
(faraz@thesundayleader.lkpics courtesyo’shea/mediacolombo


Q: How long will the walk take?
Sir Ian: We have a fixed schedule where the walk will start in the North at Kilinochchi and finish in the south at Seenigama.  The walk will be split into several stages, each of about 20 miles, and spread over 8 days.

Q: How much money will you raise?
Sir Ian: I never set a target.  The problem with targets is that once you reach them then people stop giving.  I have raised over £13,000,000 (GBP 13 Million) for charity and not once have I ever set a target.

Q: Who will the money go to?
Sir Ian: The money will be raised in the name of Laureus and The Foundation of Goodness and will be used for the benefit of the people of Sri Lanka.  The main project is to build a Sports Complex in Mankulam.

Q: Does Sir Ian sense a real willingness on the part of Sri Lanka to ‘move ahead’ post-war and to ‘get on with it’?
Sir Ian: I stay away from politics and concentrate on fund raising for charity.

Q: What will be different with this walk compared to the others you have undertaken.
Sir Ian:  Quite simply, the heat.  The other walks I have done have each had their challenges but I have never undertaken something like this in the sort of heat that is expected.  Lots of re-hydration will be required.

Q: It must be hard on the footwear also.  How may pairs of shoes do you expect to use?
Sir Ian: I will be wearing Nike Trainers for the walk.  The heat combined with the hard walking will bend the shoes out of shape.  I expect to use three pairs of shoes for the walk.

Q: How do you rate Sri Lanka as a tourist destination?  Will you ask your friends to visit Sri Lanka?
Sir Ian:  I love Sri Lanka.  I think it is a beautiful country, the people are warm and friendly, and it is a wonderful place to be.  Ever since I played in that inaugural test with Sri Lanka I have been back many times and visit as often as I can.

The Walk will start in the North, at Kilinochchi, and finish in the South at Seenigama.  
Day 01 – Kilinochchi to Mankulam
Day 02 – Mihntale to Anuradhapura
Day 03 – Sigiriya Rock to Dambulla
Day 04 – Matale to Kandy to Pinnawala
Day 05 – Kandy to Colombo
Day 06 – Hambantota
Day 07 – Matara to Galle
Day 08 – Galle to Seenigama


laureus event 27 March 2011THE SEED: This idea was planted in Ian Botham’s mind at the Laureus Foundation Media Event at the Taj Samudra on 27 March 2011 when a member of the audience asked Botham if he would consider  a walk from Point Pedro to Dondra Head (replicating his famous British walk from north end to south end). Botham was taken aback and immediately raised the problem caused by heat and humidity. Nothing daunted he has now stepped forth while sensibly gearing the walk to the principal FOG locations. All Strength to Botham, Kushil and company. Michael Roberts



Botham considers a north-south walk across Lanka for charity and reconciliation

March 29, 2011

Rex Clementine, in the Island, 29 March 2011



June 10, 2011 · 3:03 am

Reading “devastation”: Botham, CMJ, Ban Ki-Moon



March 28, 2011 · 7:09 pm

The Laureus Foundation, Botham and FOG announce a cutting-edge school and sports centre project for Mankulam

Michael Roberts



FOG and Laureus for community welfare in Mankulam

June 7, 2011

1 Comment

Filed under life stories, performance, pilgrimages, politIcal discourse, reconciliation, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, unusual people, welfare & philanthophy, world affairs

One response to “A Seed germinates: Ian Botham to walk for FOG Charity at Mankulam

  1. Pingback: Ian Botham praises Sri Lanka as Tourist Destination | Thuppahi's Blog

Leave a Reply