A grow­ing Friend­ship

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Metro - Mark Donaldson

AS a bas­ket­baller, An­drew Vla­hov was a bullish com­peti­tor.

As a chief ex­ec­u­tive, the fire still burns for the for­mer Perth Wild­cats cap­tain.

Through his pro­mo­tion company RV Sport, Vla­hov is tak­ing am­bi­tious steps with his Friend­ship Games ini­tia­tive – a youth sports event that dou­bles as a shar­ing of cul­tures be­tween WA and Asian na­tions.

With a host of back­ers, in­clud­ing Perth Glory owner Tony Sage, the cham­pion sports­man has a grand vi­sion for this sum­mer’s meet.

The event was first held in Perth in 2012 with more than 500 elite WA and Chi­nese ath­letes.

Last year, 47 Western Aus­tralians went to Shang­hai to re­turn the favour.

But next year, Vla­hov is open­ing the Friend­ship Games to all chil­dren, not just the elite con­tin­gent.

The four-time Olympian is call­ing on ev­ery school in WA to nom­i­nate a boy and girl to par­tic­i­pate.

For the first time, the Games will fo­cus on youth with dis­abil­i­ties and those who are dis­ad­van­taged.

It will grow from a WAChina fes­ti­val to in­clude com­peti­tors from Sin­ga­pore, Malaysia and In­done­sia.

In the fu­ture, Vla­hov hopes to in­clude In­dia and Sri Lanka.

“It’s a cross be­tween a com­mu­nity ini­tia­tive, crowd-fund­ing and the will to col­lec­tively build a sus­tain­able youth event for many years for WA,” he said.

“It sounds big­ger than Ben Hur, but the way we’ve mod­elled it on what we’ve done pre­vi­ously and what other peo­ple have now stepped up to the plate to do – it’s great.

“There’s still quite a com­pet­i­tive el­e­ment to it, but what we thought is – ‘we’ve got all this in­fra­struc­ture and or­gan­i­sa­tion ca­pa­bil­ity, we should be mak­ing it so that not just elite ath­letes have a crack, but also the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion who want to have an in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence’.”

A ‘buddy-fund­ing’ sys­tem will be in­tro­duced to al­low dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren to at­tend the eight-day event free.

The cost is cov­ered in paid-par­tic­i­pant fees as well as through cor­po­rate spon­sor­ships and phi­lan­thropy.

Vla­hov is a mem­ber of the board of the Global Good Foun­da­tion, which works with de­prived youth.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.