Category Archives: Sport

Football loses Gary Speed

photo via The Guardian

Rest in peace Gary Speed MBE, I hope you’ve found the tranquility you were looking for.

Gary was a great professional player, national team manager, true ambassador for the sport of football and an incredibly humble and genuine person. Football will remember and miss you deeply.

Petulant prima donnas, designer labels and glamorous girlfriends usually dominate popular perceptions of an industry more than happy to revel in its position as the world’s most popular sport. How can anybody on the surreal wages commanded by top players possibly struggle with mental illness? Depression has yet to be positively confirmed as an element of Gary’s death, but for a 42-year-old fit and healthy man to be allegedly found hanged at home surrounded by his family, has to suggest a deeply troubled, if apparently successful role model of a professional athlete.

I was lucky to have briefly met Gary a couple of times during my days at Everton FC, and also a certain Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne. Of the two I can’t think of anybody that would have bet a single penny on Paul out living Gary, but the world is a crazy place sometimes, often making no sense. The solitude of depression and its ability to completely debilitate outwardly appearing robust people should never be underestimated.

The Secret Footballer wrote in Friday’s Guardian Sport Blog, a scarily premonitory post about the “darkness behind the limelight” offering a glimpse into a hidden world of mental illness in an alpha male world.

The sheer scale of the shock and devastation across sport may lead to Gary being remembered as much for the cause of his final moments as his sporting talents.

FIFA To Kiss And Make Up

Apparently Henry Kissinger has been asked by the unchallenged and re-elected President, Sepp Blatter (@SeppBlatter), to clean up FIFA in the wake of the recent allegations of corruption.

In my humble opinion there are more than a couple of similarities between FIFA’s shenanigans and many of the financial institutions exposed by the economic troubles of recent years. Hubris definitely, and both supported because the powers-that-be believing they are needed for a common good. Some banks should have been allowed to fail by governments and those who voted for Mr Blatter have fallen into the same trap. Football fans deserve better.

The Guardian’s Simon Jenkins penned a prickly but accurate article on Tuesday that pretty much outlines the reality of the political context of unfortunately too many sporting organisations.

If FIFA was a horse it would probably be shot. Like many other sporting organisations it survives not because of great management but the passion of millions of supporters around the world parting with hard-earned cash to enjoy the entertainment, and that is all it is; entertainment. Continue reading

New Signings > European Champions League CSR Team



Seems like my fun and speedily thrown together post during the UEFA Champions League Final has caused a bit of a stir, and rightly too. A few eagle eyed CSR friends noticed the deliberate mistake and passed the test. Honest.

Yes, the team lacked a little gender diversity and was all men! My original  selection criteria was very loose and based on CSR reputation and any football connections (and my awareness of). Like any good team Captain I’ve had an imaginary word with the Manager and suggested a couple of new signings both on and off the pitch. I only hope we can afford the fees and will be actively looking for a new sponsorship deal with Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream (any ideas who’s been scouted?) to help with the fees.

I’ve included the new signings below, assuming the money is available. I’ve also had imaginary calls to those who’ve been dropped to make way for the new players, with one dummy spat out (now playing in the reserves) and one player off to be a TV pundit.

I’m also starting to scout the USA for the next team, after all we’re going to need somebody to play against! Let me know who I should pick?    



I couldn’t resist picking a European Champions League CSR squad today following inspiration from @aandreup’s Tweet and of course tonight’s big game.

A great point simply stated.

It made me smile and sent me back a few years to my time in football. So, sat in front of Barcelona V Man Utd in tonight’s European Champions League final I decided to pick my own CSR European team. Continue reading

Not a Premier League CSR Report

This is a very public challenge to the football industry.

Premier League logoWho will be the first professional football club to produce a credible non-financial report? I’m hoping to use this post to appeal to the intensely competitive nature of sport to raise the Corporate Social Responsibility / Sustainability bar to the dizzy heights of mediocrity.

‘High, wide and handsome’ is a cliché used by football commentators to eloquently describe a very badly executed shot at goal and its resultant trajectory, obviously missing by a substantial margin. It just so happens it describes football’s attempts at CSR and reporting. Continue reading

Prince William Honours Grassroots Football Campaigner

Back in my days at Everton I once received a call from an excited man asking for the club’s support, like hundreds of similar requests we received each year, except this time something felt different.

An obviously nervous, yet effervescing character called Mal Lee excitedly accepted my offer to come to Goodison Park and explain exactly what we was looking for. As a local junior football team manager he had had enough of witnessing the at times appalling behaviour of a minority of parents towards, referees, team coaches, other parents and worst of all to young footballers themselves.

Mal had become exasperated with all the official bodies expecting everybody else to take responsibility. Referees were leaving the game in droves and who would blame them when many had been regularly verbally abused and others threatened with violence or actually physically assaulted. Children were also walking away in tears never to return. With no referees there are no games. Without players there is no future. Continue reading

What would you ask John Amaechi?

Next week I’m interviewing ex-NBA star John Amaechi for 3BL TV on his views of CSR & sport and I though it’d be fun to crowd source some questions or topics to put to him.

For those who don’t know who he is, here’s a brief introduction:

John Amaechi is a psychologist, New York Times best-selling Author and social entrepreneur working in both the US and the Europe. His work is mostly in industrial/organisational settings with medium to large institutions: business, educational and philanthropic, to help them maximise their human capital.

Oh, and he played more than a little basketball too. Continue reading

Spotlight on Africa: Coaching for Conservation

March has definitely been a month of sport around these parts. Meetings at a Premier League club, Sport and Social Responsibility Summit, Beyond Sport application deadline extensions and most importantly I actually made time to start running again!

I recently wrote a post about a great UK based social enterprise I’m involved with called Kick 4 Change and how they are engaging in proceedings for the forthcoming World Cup in South Africa.

Today I want to take a quick look at a grassroots sport project engaging local communities in Africa itself, in Botswana to be more specific. Continue reading