Direct from the red carpet at the Laureus Sports Awards!
Blog by Joe Taylor, Wave Project founder:
The Laureus World Sports Awards are one of the premier annual events in the sporting calendar; so it was a huge honour to represent The Wave Project at the event in Monaco last week. Hosted by actor James Marsden, the awards recognised some of the most important moments in sport over the past year.
Amongst the VIP guests were household names like Novak Djokovic, Arsène Wenger and Boris Becker, as well as Cesc Fàbregas, surfing legend Steph Gilmore and skateboarder Tony Hawk.
I was joined at the event by one of our surf therapy mentors, Issy Massey, who volunteers at our South Devon project. We were also joined by three other amazing Sport for Good charities who are funded by Laureus; The Change Foundation, Carneys Community and The Track Academy. Also on our table were a team from Mercedes who looked after us throughout the evening – and very lovely they were too!
It’s quite hard to comprehend what it’s like being in a room with so many famous people. It was almost surreal. Shortly after we sat down to eat, someone appeared at our table to say hello. It was Daley Thompson. I got chatting to him and he agreed to come and visit our project.
“Where are you based?” he asked.
I started rambling that we had projects all over the UK, when he butted in – “Brighton. You have a project in Brighton? I’ll come and visit you there. It’s near where I live.”
And that set the tone for the whole evening. There were stars everywhere. At the end of the night, I congratulated Arsene Wenger on his Lifetime Achievement award, and he kindly gave a little video message of support for my own son’s football team. What a lovely chap! (Unfortunately, it didn’t really work – they lost 4-0 in their next game.)
Being part of a surfing charity, my colleague Issy and I were keen to meet Steph Gilmore. I persuaded Issy that we should go over and say hello at her table, which we did, and she was very nice to us.
Later on, we grabbed a drink with her at the bar, and Issy caught a selfie. It was an exciting moment. I had a chat to Steph’s manager, and she also said she would try and come for a surf with us sometime in the UK soon. Less specific than Daley, but it was a positive, nonetheless. Watch this space!
The following day, we were taken on a tour of beautiful Monaco with the Mercedes team, before flying home. Monaco offers one of the biggest concentrations of wealth in the world.
We visited the high-rollers table in the famous Monte Carlo Casino, where a minimum bet is £1m. It was impressive. But in spite of the glamour, luxury and glitz, I couldn’t help feeling a bit sorry for them …they don’t have any surf.