Former athletes share life-lessons at MILKEN MEA Summit

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Didier Drogba talked about the wins and losses in his 20-year career as a footballer and the life lessons he is now passing on to aspiring players in his home country, the Ivory Coast. (AN Photo)
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Nicolas Anelka, former player and professional football manager, talked about the discipline needed to not only succeed as an athlete but in other areas of life. (AN Photo)
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Wladimir Klitschko discussed the power of mental strength, pointing out that ‘if you control your mind, you control everything.’ (AN Photo)
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Updated 11 February 2020

Former athletes share life-lessons at MILKEN MEA Summit

  • Insights on self-awareness, visualization and discipline were shared by former athletes at Milken Institute’s 2020 Middle East and Africa Summit in Abu Dhabi
  • Footballers Nicolas Anelka, Didier Drogba and boxer Wladimir Klitschko spoke of the key lessons they learnt during their lengthy careers in sport

DUBAI: International footballing superstar Didier Drogba used to envisage himself scoring goals ahead of a match before venturing onto the pitch, delegates were told on Tuesday at the Milken Institute’s 2020 Middle East and Africa Summit, in Abu Dhabi.

Insights on self-awareness, visualization and discipline were shared by former athletes during the summit.

The annual event, which gathered more than 1,000 business executives, investors, government officials and philanthropists, also welcomed former professional football players and the longest reigning Heavyweight Boxing Champion Wladimir Klitschko, in a session titled ‘Life After Sport: What Do Elite Athletes Do Next?.’

Recalling some of his most memorable moments on the pitch, retired footballer Didier Drogba, who was Ivory Coast captain from 2006 to 2014, talked about wins and losses in his 20-year career as a footballer and the life lessons he is now passing down to aspiring players in his home country, the Ivory Coast.

Looking back at the 2012 Champions League final match between his former team Chelsea and Bayern Munich, he spoke about his winning penalty shot that secured his team the cup.

“My approach was that I want to win, I am a striker and I need to do everything to help my team win,” he said during a panel discussion at the summit.

Overall, the Ivorian striker enjoyed a glittering career scoring 164 goals in 381 games and winning four Premier Leagues and the 2012 Champions League.

Drogba said he often visualized different scenarios of scoring a goal before a match, while motivating other players to do the same and manifesting a win for his team.

Today, he is the founder of ‘The Didier Drogba Foundation,’ which provides financial and material support in both health and education to people in Africa.

“We need to invest in a lot of infrastructure in Africa to give young talent the possibility to be in a better environment to progress and reach their full potential,” he said.

Drogba also expressed his keenness to contribute to the Ivory Coast Football Federation by sharing his past experience as a professional footballer. 

“In Africa, football is more than just a game, it is a way of life, and a hope for all these kids dreaming of a better future and of crossing the Mediterranean Sea.”

Meanwhile, Nicolas Anelka, former player and manager talked about the discipline needed to not only succeed as an athlete but in other areas of life.

Starting his football career at 16, the French player highlighted the importance of self and body-awareness, noting that he has continued to follow a structured lifestyle maintaining a healthy diet and exercise schedule, and getting adequate sleep.

“Listening to your body and having that awareness comes with your curiosity to learn all that you can about yourself, and you can also find the right people who can help you become better mentally and then physically,” he said. 

Similarly, former boxer Wladimir Klitschko discussed the power of mental strength, pointing out that “if you control your mind, you control everything.”

Taking part in a total of 69 boxing fights throughout his career, he rejoiced in his success and failures inside the ring, stressing that “endurance” is the key to progress in life.

“I am a challenge master,” said Klitschko. “I like to fail, because you learn the most when you fail, and you learn more about yourself and about the world.”


English football chiefs set for ‘difficult’ coronavirus decisions

The football governing bodies are set for more talks next week. (File/Reuters)
Updated 29 March 2020

English football chiefs set for ‘difficult’ coronavirus decisions

  • Three organizations study financial impact of suspending season, with Britain in state of lockdown

England’s Premier League, Professional Footballers’ Association and Football League are steadying themselves for some “difficult decisions” amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak as they try to see if there is a way of restarting the season.

The three organizations all met on Friday to examine the financial impact of suspending the season, with Britain as a whole in a state of lockdown.
“The Premier League, EFL and PFA discussed the growing seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic,” they said in a joint statement.
“It was stressed that the thoughts of all three organizations continue to be with everyone affected by the virus.
“The Premier League, EFL and PFA agreed that difficult decisions will have to be taken in order to mitigate the economic impact of the current suspension of professional football in England and agreed to work together to arrive at shared solutions.”
Some clubs have asked players to defer up to half their wages, while players at Championship leaders Leeds, pushing for promotion to the lucrative Premier League, have volunteered for a wage deferral.
The governing bodies are set for more talks next week as they try to draw up a unified plan.
Last week saw the projected restart of the season pushed back until April 30, and that date has not moved.
“The leagues will not recommence until April 30 at the earliest. They will only do so when it is safe and conditions allow,” added the statement.
“Further meetings will take place next week with a view to formulating a joint plan to deal with the difficult circumstances facing the leagues, their clubs, players, staff and fans.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Football Association insisted they had no regrets about their announcement earlier this week that saw a host of lower division leagues declared null and void because of the coronavirus outbreak.
“The decision taken to end the 2019/20 season across Steps 3-7 of the National League System, the women’s football pyramid and the wider grassroots game was made by committee representatives for the respective leagues, and was supported by the FA Board and the FA Women’s Board,” the spokesperson said.
“It will now go to the FA Council for ratification. We fully support the decision they came to during these challenging and unprecedented circumstances for English football.”