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Speech by Nelson Mandela at the Inaugural Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award, Monaco 2000 May 25, 2000

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In this speech, Nelson Mandela presents the inaugural Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award to Pele. He talks about the power of Sports, and the heroes we have in it like Pele. He ends by telling us about the peace and change that our sports heroes inspire.

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Thank you. Thank you. Thank you

I am happy to be with you tonight at the first Laureus World Sports Award. Sport has the power to change the world. [applause] It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.

The heroes standing with me are examples of this power. They are valiant not only in the playing field, but also in the community, both local and international. They are champions and they deserve the worlds recognition.

[Applause]

Together they represent an active, vigorous Hall of Fame. A Hall of Fame that goes out into the world, spreading help, inspiration and hope.

Their legacy will be an international community where the rules of the game are the same for everyone, and behaviour is guided by fair play and good sportsmanship. I ask you now to rise and join me in commending the original inductees into the World Sports Academy Hall of Fame.

[Applause]

It is now my great pleasure to present a very special laureus award - the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award - given to a world athlete who exemplifies the highest virtue of sport, honour, courage, joy and perseverance. Our first honouree is a man who is both an athlete for the ages and a beacon of hope for the millions.

He began life in poverty and rose to the highest level of fame. To watch him play was to watch the delight of a child combined with the extraordinary grace of a man in full.

Ladies and gentlemen

It is my honour to present the inaugural Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award to Edson Arantes do Nascimento or as he is known to world - Pele.

[Applause]

Pele is in Rome tonight to join with other world soccer stars in an international football match for peace.

[PELE]

Thank you very much Mr Mandela. It is a big honour to me to receive this award. And I want to thank also to World Sports Academy for this. Everybody knows I am in Roma. We are here for the peace in the world. Beautiful event, beautiful game. One more time - thank you Mr Mandela , thank you every body for that.

[PELE ends]

[Applause]

Congratulations to the great Pele. You are an enduring model for all athletes. In fact, for all of us, to admire and emulate. Thank you and good evening.

[Applause]

Ladies and Gentlemen

Peace is the greatest weapon mankind has to resolve even the most intractable difficulties. But to be an effective agent for peace, you have to seek not only to change the community and the world. What is more difficult is to change yourself before you seek to change others. Only those who have the courage to change themselves and to know that in all communities without exception there are good men and woman who want to serve their communities.

In regards to the peaceful resolution of their problems and it is absolutely essential for the leaders of the community and the world to create an atmosphere where those good men and woman can show their maximum abilities in trying to resolve problems in a peaceful manner and that is why a legend like Pele and all of these behind me are our heroes, our hope because what ever they do in their respective fields they are promoting peace. These are monarchs, they are queens and kings, not as a result of heredity, but as a result of their personal commitment and efforts. It is one of the most enjoyable moments for me to be able, as a pensioner take part in a function of this nature.

Thank you

Courtesy of Nelson Mandela Foundation
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Speech by Nelson Mandela at the Inaugural Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award, Monaco 2000- May 25, 2000

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