‘I imagine motion is life,’ says Didier Drogba, the winner of inaugural CNN ‘Off the Pitch’ prize at Dubai Globe Soccer Awards


There’s a biblical saying that nobody is a prophet in their very own land; however Didier Drogba probably hasn’t learn that verse.

Welcomed by hordes of adoring followers wherever he goes in his native Ivory Coast, Drogba isn’t any stranger to glory nights. Champions League ultimate success in Munich in 2012, Premier League title celebrations, and taking part in for his nation on the most important stage of all, the World Cup; the 44-year-old did all of it within the stunning recreation.

However in retirement, the previous Chelsea striker has centered on giving again to the group round him, and to the African continent.

Based in 2007, the Didier Drogba Basis aimed to enhance entry to healthcare and schooling, assist eradicate poverty, empower girls, and battle in opposition to starvation.

Within the intervening years, it has introduced electrical energy to colleges, constructed well being facilities and donated to orphanages all throughout the Ivory Coast.

To acknowledge the muse’s achievements, Drogba has been awarded the inaugural CNN “Off the Pitch” prize, in partnership with Dubai Globe Soccer Awards. Now in its thirteenth version, this yr’s ceremony on November 17, comes simply three days earlier than the start of the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

“It means a lot to me and to the people working at the foundation,” Drogba informed CNN’s Becky Anderson. “Each time we get help, it’s the individuals, youngsters, girls that profit essentially the most. I’m actually pleased with it.

“Playing with the national team and getting all the love and the support from Ivorians and from Africans,” added Drogba, when requested what impressed him to arrange the muse.

“I think if I managed to have such a good career, it’s also because of their support.”

The CNN award is recognition of Drogba’s impression on wider society and tradition in addition to his charitable work.

The opposite nominees have been each charitable foundations established by golf equipment, Actual Madrid’s and AC Milan’s. CNN praised each for serving to make the game extra inclusive by international initiatives that educate younger individuals concerning the recreation and the way it can profit them.

Drogba can be being counseled for his work as a World Well being Group Goodwill Ambassador, a job by which he helps communities enhance their bodily well being and general wellbeing.

Specifically, he was an advocate for good well being practices in the course of the Covid-19 pandemic and Tedros Ghebreyesus, the pinnacle of the WHO, praised Drogba as a “proven champion both on and off the pitch.”

Drogba speaks to media during a food and protection material distribution Abidjan in 2020.

“I believe movement is life. So, the more you move, the more you are active, the more you are healthy,” Drogba informed CNN.

“We’ve seen it during this pandemic where Covid has killed a lot of people and the pandemic has been really, really difficult for people who are not really active or for people who had some problems already.”

Drogba was introduced along with his award just about by CNN forward of the ceremony in Dubai, the place the nominees for finest males’s participant embody current Ballon D’Or winner Karim Benzema and the Frenchman’s Actual Madrid teammate, Thibaut Courtois.

Within the girls’s class, FC Barcelona star Alexia Putellas and England defender Lucy Bronze are in competition.

Drogba isn’t any stranger to inspiring his countrymen, having performed a outstanding position in encouraging a ceasefire in the course of the first Ivorian Civil Struggle.

The nationwide staff had simply made historical past, securing the nation’s place on the 2006 World Cup, their first ever look on the international match with a 3-1 victory away over Sudan.

The captain, Cyril Domoraud, then invited the media into the altering room after the sport and handed the microphone to Drogba, then the staff’s star striker.

“Men and women of the Ivory Coast,” he stated down the lens, his face stern and honest. “From the north, south, center and west, we proved today that all Ivorians can coexist and play together with a shared objective: to qualify for the World Cup.”

The bloody civil conflict would kill an estimated 4,000 individuals and displace over a million. Drogba’s speech and the staff’s qualification for the World Cup helped persuade the federal government and opposing New Forces to carry a ceasefire and restart peace talks.

In early 2007, the 2 warring sides signed an official peace settlement, inflicting then president Laurent Gbagbo to declare the conflict was over.

Drogba is seen aboard a military vehicle at Felix Houphouet Boigny airport in October 2005 after qualifying for the World Cup.

“It worked out well because this message went on the television news for lunch and at night every day for six months. And we managed to get [a] ceasefire. So that’s the impact, a message like this one from a football player can achieve [that],” Drogba informed CNN.

Regardless of his affect on Ivorians and a current failed bid to develop into president of his nation’s soccer affiliation, Drogba emphasised that he has no political ambitions.

“This has nothing to do with politics. I want a healthy continent,” he stated. “I want a place where Africans can go abroad, play and come back to their countries and enjoy and have a good life. That’s all I want.”