Beefy's Big Sri Lanka Walk: Sir Ian fit and ready to go!
Sir Ian Botham discusses the reasons which have driven him to take on his challenge in Sri Lanka.
By Oli Burley - @SkySportsOli
Last Updated: 12/11/13 5:03pm
It's a vision not only shared, but one endorsed by Muttiah Muralitharan and Sir Ian Botham ahead of Friday's opening leg of Beefy's Big Sri Lanka Walk.
Through the Foundation of Goodness, Muralitharan has already helped to rebuild the southern town of Seenigama, destroyed by the Tsumani Disaster of December 2004.
Now, with the help of Botham's fund-raising, eight-day walk - organised by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation - the Foundation of Goodness aims to expand and develop a second site in Mankulum, where Friday's first leg of the trek will finish.
Looking ahead to day one, Botham - speaking at Colombo's Kingsbury Hotel - said: "I came here in 2005 just after the tsunami as a representative of the Laureus Sport for Good to see if there was anything we could do to help.
"It was pretty horrendous and some of those images will stay with me for the rest of my life. It was soul-destroying to talk to the people and hear their stories and to see the destruction. Tens of thousands of people lost their lives.
"With a lot of help and hard work we've ended up with a village at Seenigama, and it is state of the art - there's a cricket oval, schooling, and Olympic swimming pool - one way or another we've put it all together. It was hugely successful.
"What people forget is that the tsunami also hit the north of the island; no-one really knew to what extent because of the civil war that was going on.
"Thankfully, that came to an end, a few years ago. We went up there to look at the new site and what we want to do is mirror what we have done in the north in the south. This has got nothing to do with politics - this is purely and simply to give people a chance who have never had an opportunity.
"They'll have sports facilities, they'll have a village with everything functioning. If it's as successful as we've seen down in the south, we'll see a lot of sportsmen coming out of that village very soon."
On Friday, Botham will officially open the second edition of the Murali Harmony Cup - a 20-team schools cricket tournament created to promote community-building in post-war Sri Lanka - that last year showcased the talents of three players who have gone on to play first-class cricket.
The hope is that Mankulum will become a centre of not only sporting excellence but one where the spirit of resilience is celebrated and fresh opportunities are created.
Botham - who says he has lost up to two stone in preparation of the arduous task that lies before him - can't wait to get going, saying: "I like a challenge - and I'm more than ready for this one."
You can follow Botham's progress on Sky Sports News, online with skysports.com and on your Ipad. To donate to Beefy's fund-raising effort simply visit www.justgiving.com/BeefysSriLankaWalk