David Beckham is not only a great football player and a symbol of the modern metrosexual man, he is also known for his philanthropic work. He has raised a lot of money as well as garnered publicity for Unicef, of which he has been an ambassador for the past decade.
In a new documentary titled David Beckham For The Love Of The Game, cameras follow Beckham as he sets himself a challenge: to play a football game on all seven continents of the world and get back in time for his all-star Unicef fundraising match at Old Trafford.
“I still can’t quite believe that we’ve managed to pull it off!” says Beckham, 40. “Once we greenlit the project, the team made the whole trip happen in just four months! It was a huge amount to achieve and I’m grateful to everyone involved, I don’t think I’ll ever experience anything quite like it again.”
The journey took Beckham and the crew to 11 countries such as Papua New Guinea, Nepal, Argentina, and the United States in the span of just 10 days.
The iconic footballer’s final stop was Old Trafford for his Match For Children played by an all-star line-up including Sir Alex Ferguson as Beckham’s team manager.
“This documentary is about showcasing the work we do for Unicef, and the work Unicef does on the ground. It is also to showcase the power of the game, what the game means to so many people around the world,” he said in an earlier interview with Huffington Post.
In a transcript provided by HyppTV, Beckham talks extensively about this arduous journey of a lifetime.
1. It’s quite a journey you’ve undertaken; how did the experience change for you from first arriving in Papua New Guinea, to the last game in Old Trafford?
It was an amazing adventure, we travelled around the whole world in just 10 days! It was the first time I had been to each place and every location was completely different.
In Papua New Guinea, I was shown how to make a football out of banana leaves while in Antarctica, we played on the ice in snow boots surrounded by the most jaw-dropping scenery. That was a truly magical moment that I will remember forever.
The one thing that connected each location was a passion for football. We played with earthquake survivors in Nepal through to university soccer teams in Miami but when you put the ball down on the pitch that was it, we were all just in the game and every match we played was unique to that place.
2. What really stood out for you in each location?
The people. We met so many incredible people everywhere. The first three locations we travelled to were all places where charities and organisations like Unicef are working to help families and children.
In Nepal we saw first-hand the devastation caused by the earthquake and to play with children who had lived through that and see them smile was inspirational.
3. Were there any hairy moments?
We wanted to show how football has reached people in some of the most neglected and remote parts of the world, that’s at the heart of the story and part of the fun was our journey to reach these places.
There were some nail-biting moments especially with some of the transportation I was in, the tuk tuk in Nepal was an experience!
4. You’ve visited some remote places. How did you manage to communicate with people without a common language?
That’s the brilliant thing about football, you can come together and play and it doesn’t matter what language you’re speaking.
In Djibouti I played with some really talented footballers. They were refugees who had had to flee their countries, and playing football together was a moment of unity.
The game is able to bring those children in the camp a sense of togetherness – it was a powerful moment to see.
5. What have you learned from each destination that you visited?
Football is where it all started for me, it made my dreams come true and I’ll always be grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had.
What I’ve seen and learned making this film is that it can reach people everywhere. We saw how it can bring people together in areas where there’s been conflict or just simply how it can make someone smile even in the aftermath of a disaster.
David Beckham For The Love Of The Game premieres March 24 at 9.50pm on BBC Earth HD (HyppTV Ch 501).