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.”


World number one Ashleigh Barty wary of US Open return

Updated 05 June 2020

World number one Ashleigh Barty wary of US Open return

  • Australian surged to the top of the rankings last year and has stayed there since
  • ‘I’d need to understand all of the information and advice ... before making a decision on the US events’

SYDNEY: World number one Ashleigh Barty voiced caution Friday about resuming tennis too soon, saying she needed more information before committing to the US Open in August.
The Australian, who surged to the top of the rankings last year and has stayed there since, said it was not just her but her entire team she must consider in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s exciting that tennis is being talked about again and things are moving in the right direction for us to start competing,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“But I’d need to understand all of the information and advice from the WTA and the USTA before making a decision on the US events.”
The WTA and ATP schedules have been on ice since March with action not set to resume until the end of July at the earliest.
Wimbledon was canceled for the first time since World War II, while the French Open has been shifted from May-June to September-October.
A decision about the US Open — played in New York, which has been a hotbed for the virus — is yet to be made, but its main draw is scheduled to begin on August 31.
Barty said she was concerned about travel exemptions for her support staff.
While players could be exempt from a 14-day quarantine period, it remains unclear whether that also applies to their teams.
“It’s not just me, it’s my team I have to consider,” she said.
On Thursday, Rafael Nadal insisted tennis should not start again “until the situation is completely safe.”
“If you told me to play the US Open today, I would say ‘no’,” said the Spaniard, who captured a fourth US Open and 19th major in New York last year.
“In a few months, I don’t know. I hope so. We have to wait for people to return to normal life. And when it does, wait to see how the virus evolves.”