Friday, May 18, 2007

Drogba, the FA Cup and the United Nations

I like Didier Drogba. He's a good guy.

I wasn't much of a fan in years past. I'm not a huge admirer of Chelsea and I wasn't keen on his diving routine, flopping this way and that as if a sniper shot him from the towers.

But in writing this blog, I've gotten to read of a Drogba that cares for his people back home (the war-ravaged Ivory Coast), that cares about the fans and that genuinely gives back.

This weekend, the Ivorian international takes part in the final of the oldest footballing competition in the world, the FA Cup, which started play in 1871.

Drogba's Chelsea challenge Premiership champions Manchester United in the first-ever FA Cup Final to be held at the new Wembley Stadium, the new English national team stadium in London.

Having scored 32 goals for the Blues this campaign, Drogba is an important cog in the West London club's outfit.

The FA Cup Final is the traditional last game of the English season. Being that this season sees no major international tournaments during the break (unlike last summer's World Cup or next summer's Euro 2008 ... if you're South American, this summer brings the Copa America), most players will go on vacation and enjoy the break from the game.

But Didier has other responsibilities.

This past January, Drogba was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for the fight against poverty by the United Nations Development Programme, joining the likes of Zinedine Zidane and AC Milan's Ronaldo.

Having this title gives Drogba some perspective heading into the big game.

"It's true this final is very important but there are things even more important than football," Drogba said.

"Life is more important than winning or losing a game."

Very true. So what happens now?

"Now I think we're going to have time to speak with Ronaldo and Zidane and to prepare something.

"It's to give everybody a chance to have a good life.

"We have this chance, we are in a better position than people in Africa or Asia. To go there and give them what they need is very important for us.

"To go and try to build some schools is very important because the children are the future of our world."

Looking back at his own boyhood, Drogba said: "I had the chance to go to France very early. My parents gave me the chance to learn and go to school in a better situation than if I was in the Ivory Coast.

"So I want to share this with the people in Africa and everywhere in the world."

Drogba's a good guy. He's one of the men playing football who use the game to uplift others.

I may not cheer for his club, but I'll cheer for the man. He deserves our accolades.

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