The past week has been one of high drama for the game of football. But sadly not on the pitch.
With the world’s leading football body, FIFA, coming under unprecedented accusation and condemnation, the game playing took on a whole, new, nasty nature. A sport that has brought millions across the world together for years, and has been a part of the fabric of many nations’ pride, unity and even identity, brought its passionate followers to states of emotion never seen before in the sport. Outrage became the sport’s unifying sentiment. Along with grave disappointment, though many would say not surprise.
The intense bruising of FIFA’s credibility, and outright challenge to its honesty of operations, has many across the globe arguing that, while this is a tragedy for FIFA, it may in fact be what the beautiful game has been needing for years. Finally, the velvet curtain is being pulled back, concerns are being followed up, concrete evidence is being collected, and charges are being made.
How far and wide the shadow of shame will go is yet to be seen. What is clearly visible, however, is that the love of the game remains strong, and its fans and followers across the globe are prepared to fight for its honesty.
The undeniable fall of FIFA this past week as the guardian of the world’s most widely played and cherished sport has shown, once again how richly unifying, and transcending, sport can be, and is. A game that is played by literally billions around the world, its moves intuitive, and its spirit infectious, has become a force that has unified nationals, and nations, for as long as lovers of the game can remember. Creating iconic moments, heroes, defining images, electric events, landmark centres of sport, and dreams of “maybe one day that will be me!”, football represents one of our great global languages.
What has this past week done to the fans of football far and wide? It has created an important separation between sport and sports bodies. And it has made clear there are some conversation, some negotiations, that the game is unwilling to engage in. There are some moves in the game that true lovers of the sport are unwilling, absolutely unwilling, to play.
This has to be a good thing.
The outrage must remain as a fuel of fury, inspiring football’s community, whether fans or officials, sponsors, players or profilers, to come together. Now is the moment for the sport to feel sits real strength – the billions of people across the globe who have made it the truly beautiful game.
As poignantly and earnestly expressed by Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Hussein in his powerful, albeit unsuccessful, FIFA election speech,:
“We are guardians of a Game that is not simply for the world, it is a game that is loved and cherished by the world. A game that is celebrated and a game that has the power to unite and to heal. That brings joy and tears. And that is about men and women who give their all and then more still… To inspire and guide the young. To entertain through suspense and endeavor. And to give pride to nations and regions.
The world that is watching is not a stakeholder that is somehow separate from our Game – FIFA does not exist in a bubble; the world that is watching is part of us, and we are part of it.”
As with all dark, long nights, there is always the promise of a new dawn. Now is the time for football lovers around the world to step forward and take their positions.
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2015
For all of the awe and analysis that comes with observing the evolution of the global travel and tourism industry, one truth remains at the core of the ‘why‘ of global travel: the world wants, and needs, to connect. And there is no greater force than travel and tourism to enable people of different places to find common interests, common bonds, common understanding.
Since 2015 began, so much has occurred to show just how divided the world we live in today is. Geography. Ideology. Politics. Economics.
And then something happens that causes a shaking of the global psyche, bringing us all together. Uniting us around a common value: a life lived.
Just days ago the Earth shook and Nepal fell. As the rubble rolled its way towards a stop-point the world stopped to catch its breath, and find ways to keep survivors strong, hopeful, breathing. It’s not about national efforts – it is about millions of people across nations coming together to help, simply because it is the right thing to do. Because ultimately we are one global community.
Today, at this point in the post-tragedy phase, here is where we are in terms of global response: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/04/25/world/nepal-earthquake-how-to-help/index.html
How can one help? this is the best way to find the best route of support: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/04/25/world/nepal-earthquake-how-to-help/index.html
However we respond, however we choose to show our support, may it create a deep sense of, above all, above all nations, we are one global community. And in times of crisis, we could only be so fortunate for the world to respond to our personal need in the same way.
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2015
As the month of March began, the first anniversary of the disappearance of MH370 was just days away. One year on, not one concrete clue has emerged around what happened to the aircraft with its 239 souls on board. The one great aviation mystery of our generation still hangs heavy on our hearts and minds. One aircraft, one hurt, one enduring hope that maybe, just maybe, one day we will know…
Just a matter of days on, as the month has moved on, the eyes of the world were forced to suddenly shift. From Malaysia our eyes travelled to other points on the world map suddenly gripped by crisis. Often they were places unfamiliar to sight. Just this past weekend it was Vanuatu, a pure, picture-perfect, tiny island paradise forced into the headlines as Tropical Cyclone Pam forced her way through, leaving a path of destruction and despair not seen since the tragedy of 2013’s Super Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban. http://reliefweb.int/report/vanuatu/infographic-tropical-cyclone-pam-march-2015. At once, the world’s eyes watched with anxiousness, seeing the hurt, looking for the signs of hope.
And then suddenly, like the switching of a television channel, and in fact through the switching of a television channel or refresh of a webpage, the eyes of the world travelled from the South Pacific to North Africa. Tunisia, the nation seen as the single success story of the Arab Spring, shaken to its core by a brutal terror attack in Tunis, one carefully targeting a high profile centre of culture and tourism. A single blow hits at the hearts of Tunisians and several nations, as 23 lives are lost (as of 19 03 2015 count) including those of 18 foreign tourists. Horror where once there was such hope. Today, the day after the nightmare the day before, the shadows still block the sun, the darkness and fear thick. The threats of “more” echoing.
Again. And Again. And again.
As the 2015 calendar moves through the months ahead, again and again the world’s eyes will be shifting to new locations of loss, learning of places and people whose lives are suddenly left in one overwhelming state of shock. More prayers will be said. More sadness will be felt. One world….united by one hurt.
Yet despite, or maybe it is because of, all of the physical separation of geography, and often separation of ideology, an invisible yet powerful unification is taking place. One world’s shared hurt, one without borders, is emerging as one shared need to hold on to hope.
Hope – the innate, deeply rooted need to believe that tomorrow will be a better day. And with that, tomorrow our world will be a better, safer, kinder place.
Some call such hope ‘audacity‘, some ‘naïveté‘, some ‘impossibility‘, some a reflection of being out of touch with reality.
And yet, the human spirit continues to hope, turning to those right next to us and across the globe to fuel its ability to endure. Because it has to.
It might not be tomorrow, but soon, no question about it, something else will happen to shift out focus, to shake our faith. Something will scare our inner child.
In that moment, once again, we will be forced to dig deep, turning our shock and chilled states of heart into a glue that binds us all together with a need to believe that tomorrow, maybe tomorrow, we will be better. Our world will be safer. The sun will break through the cloud.
One world, with the remarkable ability to turn one hurt into one unextinguishable hope….with all of its beautiful, borderless, breathing easy, bonds.
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2015
With the world around us opening more and more each day to personal exploration through travel, a natural excitement and energy bubbles up in the hearts and minds of passport, smartphone and credit card carrying nomads from far and wide. The ability to enter locations and lives, seeing sights, inhaling scents, and responding to smiles different from those of ‘home’, and gaining deeper understanding of not just other worlds but one’s worlds within – these are just some of the blessings of travel.
Yet, with all of the places to go, people to meet, foods to sample, handcrafts to purchase, views to absorb, photographs to post, and ticks to put against the lists, all too often the busy, busy pursuits of travel turns moments and memories into a blur. ‘Being there’ has become so packed with experiences to absorb, followed by a pressure to move on to make more memories happen, that all so easily it can result in missing out on making ‘real’ the here and now. The moments long dreamt of from afar continue to feel out there.
Sadly, the details that most deeply touch one’s heart and penetrate one’s memories, can become lost:
Listening to the lapping of water at the side of a boat as it sits peacefully on the waters of the Nile…
Spotting the tiny heads of Hype Park spring flowers courageously coming out of wintry ground in search of glimpses of sunshine even though the change of seasons is still weeks away…
Watching a local parent watching his young child carefully eat an ice cream cone, the little lad’s intensity of focus unwavering, unaware of the sweet mess looming…
Looking into the eyes of Luxor’s horses pausing for a break and brief feeding before their next guests arrive to be taken on a city tour via carriage…
Standing quietly in the darkness to find the faint yet formidable lines of the Great Pyramids of Giza, illuminated by a mere handful of stars above…
They are all out there. Tiny moments, precious moments, that bring to life dreams of travel.
For all of the picture-perfect images that can be captured by cameras, the perfect moments of travel go far beyond when they are captured by being still – listening to the silence as the scene is being absorbed. And feeling the heartbeat of the subject of one’s attention and affection, whether animate or not.
These are the lifelong, worldwide, travel inspired moments all around us, little gifts waiting to be uncovered each and every day.
There they are, to be discovered and held dear as deeply personal, favourite memories…..though only found and felt, by being still.
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2015
Just 5 years ago it would have seemed beyond belief, beyond border approvals, beyond principle.
And then the world changed – Myanmar (Burma)’s doors of possibility – politically, economically, logistically, philosophically – were thrown open. For millions around the world, never in their lifetime did they expect to see the day that Aung San Suu Kyi would walk through her front door as a free woman. And for millions of travellers, never did they think they would be able to walk through Myanmar’s front door as a warmly welcomed visitor.
Yet today, just a matter of a 5 short years later, it is all possible.
And at this moment, it is happening with accelerated momentum and elevated excitement.
This week the ASEAN region’s leaders in tourism gather in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar’s capital, for the 2015 ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF – http://www.atf-2015.com/). Ten economies making up one of the powerful growing regions in the world. Through the presence of the highest level of VVIP leadership from across the region – Hon. Ministers of Tourism from Thailand, Cambodia, Thailand, Japan, Laos, Indonesia and India, along with Vietnam, Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines and others from across the region, accompanied by the UNWTO, WTTC and PATA, the future of regional tourism will be shaped.
Together they unite as leaders working in unity for collective, cooperative ASEAN growth and development rather that competition.
And together, they make clear their welcome Myanmar as one of the ASEAN community, one more nation and destination to benefit from the exemplary ‘all for one’ approach of ASEAN.
For all VVIP attendees at ATF – heads of tourism authorities, Government leaders in tourism, global and regional tourism bodies – this year’s annual reunion of tourism leaders will be, as always, an opportunity to advance discussions and commitments around tourism sector enablement and empowerment. It will be a chance to check in with one’s neighbours, reflecting on the year just past, sharing insights, learnings, and personal favourite stories. Within professional associations and collaborations, personal relationships are embedded. It will also be, as always, a chance to recalibrate and ready for all that is ahead, defining opportunities, deciding shared programmes, and detailing areas of caution.
And yet, permeating through this year’s ATF will no doubt be, for all attendees across all elves and ASEAN nations, a quiet yet powerful sense of “We are in Myanmar!”
This deeply personal, yet collectively shared, sense of awe is what should always be paused, always be absorbed, never be forgotten.
The world in which we live today, as wide and fragmented and challenged and stuck and overwhelming as it may appear at times, is changing every single moment. With these changes, doors are opening, eyes are opening, minds are opening, and hearts are opening!
We are here!
And because of this, our world is a place of blessed awe!
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2015