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Patrice Evra

Coach & Former Pro Football Player

Metta Sandiford-Artest

Founder, Artest Management Group & Former NBA Player

The emergence of the UAE as a leading global sports venue is seen as an opportunity to complement major sporting organizations like the NBA and FIFA and explore sustainable opportunities.
“I love this game” is your mantra, and it serves as an inspiration to thousands of children and grown-ups that need to challenge themselves and deal with difficult situations on a daily basis. What advice do you give to them today?

PATRICE EVRA First, I love this game. It is not about sports; it is about life. I love this life. When I say I love this game it is because I think life is a game, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. The advice I want to give to those kids is to make sure that whatever they want to do they can do it. I tell the story that when I was at school and there was a French teacher the first day that asked, “what do you want to become?” I said, I want to become a footballer and she said, “being a football player is not a job.” Today, I want to make sure no one is saying the same thing to other kids. I also advise those kids not to pretend to be somebody they aren’t; just be yourself. You don’t have to be perfect. You will make mistakes in your life, but don’t be afraid to make those mistakes and take risks. I am passionate about life.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) have announced a multi-year partnership to host the first-ever NBA games in the UAE. How would you define the Emirate’s rapid emergence as a sports venue?

METTA SANDIFORD-ARTEST From my experience, it seems like Abu Dhabi wants to be active in sports and make a big imprint on it. Obviously, bringing the NBA is great because of its superb brand equity. What it is going to find out is how to complement the NBA with other opportunities. So, it is going to be interesting to observe what opportunities they perceive as sustainable. And that is another reason why I am here; it is the right time to get involved.

How do you envision the UAE business ecosystem and the opportunity that it represents for future projects, and how does it support and align with your mission values?

PE The UAE is 10 years ahead of the game. What I love about Abu Dhabi is that it listens to you. And there is a massive difference between someone just hearing you and actually listening to you, which makes you feel make you more than welcome. Abu Dhabi is the capital of business, with its regulation. Emiratis really view a partnership as a relationship, so it is a win-win. Here, men and women are increasingly working together rather than in competition. For me, it made complete sense to open my media company, Curve, here. And to help the brand connect with the audience, I built on my social media profile. People know me as a football player, but they don’t know me personally. So, through my social media now people understand my other side. That is why I want to help people create their brand and spread that awareness. So that is why I am in Abu Dhabi. When you have a good idea, they listen closely. It is not like they immediately give you the golden visa; however, if you share common values, you can explore the future together.

How does this presence play an integral role in developing young talent and healthy lifestyles at the grassroots level?

MS-A Sports make you feel better, burning calories makes you feel good, and that’s just from a health perspective. It’s great to give people an opportunity to dream. As children, they are trying to make it from one level to the next with all the tough effort that requires. Not everybody’s going to make it, but at least you can develop a physically healthy foundation for life. And a mentally healthy foundation helps you think better. Meanwhile, learning discipline will help a person get on with others later in life, which can bring so much value to them, the country and region. The NBA is in the perfect position to promote these values because they have so much capital at their disposal. They can launch programs quickly and invest in human capital. You might even start seeing professional players emerge from the region. The sports that dominate the region are cricket and soccer. And right now, it is all about introducing basketball with the example of existing talented players. The trick is to build up your local infrastructure by bringing in the knowledge, passion, and talent to develop a local base.

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